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Ernest A. Vizetelly 



Copyright, igo2, by D. Trenor. 


{ The Heptameron). 

Eight Days' Entertainment. 










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(Condensed from Mr. Vizetelly's Essay and from the 
Writings of Other Critical Authorities.) 

The first published version of the famous Tales of Margaret 
of Navarre, issued in Paris in the year 1558 under the title 
of Histoires des Annans Fortunez, was extremely faulty and 
imperfect. It comprises but sixty-seven of the seventy-two 
tales written by the royal author • and the editor, Pierre 
Boaistuau, not merely changed the order of those narratives 
which he did print, but suppressed numerous passages in 
them, besides modifying much of Margaret's phraseology. A 
somewhat similar course was adopted by Claude Gruget, who 
a year later produced what claimed to be a complete version 
of the stories, to which he gave the general title of The Hep- 
tameron, a name which they have ever since retained. Al- 
though he retained the majority of the tales in their proper 
sequence he still suppressed several of them, and also modi- 
fied the Queen's language after the fashion set by Boaistuau. 

Despite its imperfections, however, Gruget' s version was 
frequently reprinted down to the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, when it served as the basis of the numerous editions 
of the Heptameron in beau langage, as the French phrased it. 
It served, moreover, in the one or the other form, for the 
English and other translations of the work, and down to our 
own time was accepted as the standard version of the Queen 
of Navarre's celebrated tales. Although it was known that 
various contemporary MSS. were preserved at the French 
National Library in Paris, no attempt was made to compare 


Gruget's faulty version with the originals until 1853, when 
the Societe des Bibliophiles Fran(;ais entrusted this delicate 
task to M. Le Roux de Lincy, whose labors led to some most 
valuable discoveries, enabling him to produce a really authen- 
tic version of Margaret's admirable masterpiece, with the 
suppressed tales restored, the omitted passages reinstated, and 
the Queen's real language given for the first time in all its 
simple gracefulness. 

It is from the authentic text furnished by M. Le Roux de 
Lincy that the present translation has been made, without the 
slightest suppression or abridgment. The work, moreover, 
contains all of the really valuable notes to be found in the 
best French editions of the Heptameron, as well as numerous 
others from original sources, and includes a resume of the 
various suggestions made by MM. Felix Frank, Le Roux de 
Lincy, Paul Lacroix, and A. de Montaiglon toward the 
identification of the principal actors in them with well-known 
historical personages of the time. 

Miniature courts were held by Margaret at Nerac and Pau, 
which yielded to none in Europe in the intellectual brilliancy 
of their frequenters. Margaret was at once one of the chief 
patronesses of letters that France possessed and rhe chief 
refuge and defender of advocates of the Reformed doctrines. 
Around her gathered Marot, Bonaventure, Desperiers, Deni- 
sot, Peletier, Brodeau, and many other men of letters, while 
she protected Rabelais, Dolet, etc. For a time her influence 
with her brother, Francis L, King of France, was effectual, 
but later political rather than religious considerations made 
him discourage Lutheranism, and a fierce persecution was 
begun against both Protestants and freethinkers, a persecution 
which drove Desperiers to suicide and brought Dolet to the 
stake. Margaret herself, however, was protected by her 
brother, and her personal inclinations seem to have been 
rather toward a mystical pietism than toward dogmatic Prot- 
estant sentiments. 


The Heptameroti, constructed, as its name indicates, on the 
lines of the Decameron of Boccaccio, consists of seventy-two 
short stories told to each other by a company of ladies and 
gentlemen who were delayed on the journey homeward from 
Cauterets, a fashionable watering-place, by the swelling of a 
river. Margaret died in 1549. In 1558, about ten years 
after the author's death, the Heptameron was first printed. 
It is a delightful book, and strongly characteristic of the 
French Renaissance. The sensuality which characterized the 
period appears in it, but in less coarse form than in the great 
work of Rabelais. 

It has been claimed by some critics that internal evidence 
is strongly in favor of its having been a joint work in which 
more than one of the men of letters who composed Margaret's 
household took part ; but against this supposition we may 
place the positive testimony of Brantome. The Queen of 
Navarre, he says, ' ' composed most of these novels in her 
litter as she travelled, for her hours of retirement were em- 
ployed in affairs of importance. I have heard this account 
from my grandmother, who always went with her in her 
litter as her lady of honor and held her ink-horn for her ; 
and she wrote them down as quickly and readily, or rather 
more so, than if they had been dictated to her." 

It is to the literal truth of the tales of the Heptameron that 
we must attribute its immediat-e success at court and in subse- 
quently holding the attention of so many successive genera- 
tions of readers. These tales were not only true, but they 
were about people with whom everyone was acquainted. 
The real salt of the book lies in this naive, unconsidered, and 
unpremeditated realism. A great many details, quite absurd 
and trivial in themselves, which Queen Margaret introduced 
merely because they so happened, surprise and delight us 
with their fresh veracity. We are plunged into a strange 
world of contrasts — a world of beautiful light-minded ladies, 
to whom the life or death of common people is a trivial 



alternative. These exquisite creatures ("si divines et deli- 
cates," as Margaret herself wrote of Madame d'Estampes) 
spend their time in broidering in open-work, red silken coun- 
terpanes, in reading (they all know it by heart) La Belle 
Dame sans Merci, in devising interviews with their lovers, or 
in visiting the fashionable magician of the town in order to 
observe the wasting of the waxen images of those whom they 
design to make away with ! Torture was still used in civic 
trials of Alen^on, where the Duke had absolute power of life 
or death like any other duke in Shakespeare's plays. We are 
gratified to learn that ten crowns was the proper fee for a 
hired assassin, and that, although sanctuary was still given to 
these gentry in palaces and churches, the ends of justice were 
sometimes secured by starving out the refugees. 

The Heptavieron is the best known and the most popular of 
all the old collections of tales in the French language. It has 
been the delight of the unlearned, scholars have warmly com- 
mended it, and men of talent and genius have borrowed from 
its pages. Brantome speaks of it with enthusiasm, and quotts 
it repeatedly ; Lafontaine, the conteur pai- excellence, acknowl- 
edges his obligations to it; Montaigne calls it nngentillivre 
poll}- son etoffe — "a nice book for its matter;" and Bayle 
says it is " after the manner of Boccace's novels," and " has 
some beauties in that kind which are surprising. ' ' The book, 
too, has had its* enemies as well as its admirers, for it abounds 
with reflections on religious topics which accord with the 
author's known leaning to the cause of the Reformers; and 
through the whole work the monks, especially the Cordeliers, 
are treated with much severity, and are represented as com- 
mitting, and sometimes with impunity even when discovered, 
the most cruel, deceitful, and immoral actions. 



Prologue to the Heptameron i 

FIRS 7^ DA V. 

Novel I. 

A woman of Alenqon having two lovers, one for her pleasure 
and the other for her profit, caused that one of the two to 
be slain who was the first to discover her gallantries — 
She obtained her pardon and that of her husband, who had 
fled the country, and who afterwards, in order to save some 
money, applied to a necromancer — The matter was found 
out and punished 13 

Novel II. 

Chaste and lamentable death of the wife of one of the Queen 
of Navarre's muleteers 22 

Novel III. 

A king of Naples, having debauched the wife of a gentleman, 
at last wears horns himself 27 

Novel IV. 

Presumptuous attempt of a gentleman upon a Princess of 
Flanders, and the shame it brought upon him 34 

Novel V. 

A boatwoman escapes from two Cordeliers, who wanted to 
force her, and exposes them to public derision 43 




Novel VI. 

Stratagem by which a woman enables her gallant to escape, 
when her husband, who was blind of an eye, thought to sur- 
prise them together 47 

Novel VII. 

Trick put by a mercer of Paris upon an old woman to conceal 
his intrigue with her daughter 50 

Novel VIII. 

A man ha\ing lain with his wife, believing that he was in bed 
with his servant, sends his friend to do the same thing; and 
the friend makes a cuckold of him without the wife being 
aware of it 53 

Novel IX. 

Deplorable death of a lover in consequence of his knowing 
too late that he was beloved by his mistress . 6i 

Novel X. 

The loves of Amadour and Florida, wherein are seen several 
stratagems and dissimulations, and the exemplary chastity 
of Florida 68 


Novel XI. 

An odorous adventure which befell Madame de Roncex at the 

Franciscan Monastery of Thouars 107 

Facetious sayings of a Cordelier in his sermons 109 

Novel XII. 

Incontinence and tyranny of a Duke of Florence — Just pun- 
ishment of his wickedness 113 

Novel XIII. 

A captain of a galley, under the cloak of devotion, fell in love 
with a demoiselle — What happened in consequence. 123 



Novel XIV. 

Subtlety of a lover^ who, counterfeiting the real favourite, 
found means to recompense himself for his past troubles.. . 134 

Novel XV. 

A lady of the court, seeing herself neglected by her husband, 
whose love was bestowed elsewhere, retaliated upon him. .. 142 

Novel XVI. 

A Milanese lady tested her lover's courage, and afterwards 
loved him heartily 1 58 

Novel XVII. 

King Francis gives a signal proof of his courage in the case 
of Count Guillaume, who designed his death 165 

Novel XVIII. 

A lady tests the fidelity of a young student, her lover, before 
granting him her favours 169 

Novel XIX. 

Two lovers, in despair at being hindered from marrying, turn 
monk and nun ". 1 76 

Novel XX. 

A gentleman finds his cruel fair one in the arms of her groom, 
and is cured at once of his love. ... 186 


Novel XXI. 

Virtuous love of a young lady of quality and a bastard of an 
illustrious house — Hinderance of their marriage bv a queen 
— Sage reply of the demoiselle to tlic queen — Her subse- 
quent marriage 192 


Novel XXII. 


A hypocritical prior tries every means to seduce a nun, but at 
last his villainy is discovered 215 

Novel XXIII. 

A Cordelier who was the cause of three murders, that of hus- 
band, wife, and child 228 

Novel XXIV. 

Ingenious device of a Castilian in order to make a declaration 
of love to a queen, and what came of it 237 

Novel XXV. 

Cunning contrivance of a young prince to enjoy the wife of an 
advocate of Paris 248 

Novel XXVI. 

By the advice and sisterly affection of a virtuous lady, the lord 
of Avannes was weaned from his dissolute amours with a 
lady of Pampeluna 255 

Novel XXVII. 

A secretary had the impudence to solicit the favours of his 
host's wife, and had only the shame for his pains 273 

Novel XXVIII. 

A secretary, thinking to dupe a certain person, was himself 
duped 275 

Novel XXIX. 

A villager, whose wife intrigued witli the parish priest, suffered 
himself to be easily deceived 278 

Novel XXX. 

Notable example of human frailty in a lady who, to conceal an 
evil, commits a still greater one , 281 




Novel XXXI. 

A. monastery of Cordeliers was burned, and the monks in it, 
in perpetual memory of the cruelty of one of them who was 
in love with a lady 292 

Novel XXXII. 

A husband surprises his wife in flagrante delicto, and subjects 
her to a punishment more terrible than death itself 298 


Incest of a priest, who got his sister with child under the cloak 
of sanctity, and how it was punished 305 

Novel XXXIV. 

Two over-inquisitive Cordeliers had a great fright, which had 
like to cost them their lives 310 

Novel XXXV. 

Contrivance of a sensible husband to cure his wife of her pas- 
sion for a Cordelier .' 315 

Novel XXXVI. 

A President of Grenoble, becoming aware of his wife's irregu- 
larities, took his measures so wisely that he revenged him- 
self without any public exposure of his dishonour 324 

Novel XXXVII. 

Judicious proceedings of a wife to withdraw her husband from 
a low intrigue with which he was infatuated 331 


Memorable charity of a lady of Tours with regard to her faith- 
less husband 336 


Novel XXXIX. ''^°"" 

Secret for driving away the hobgoblin 340 

Novel- XL. 

The Count de Jossebelin has his brother-in-law put to death, 
not knowing tlie relationship. 342 


Novel XLI. 

Strange and novel penance imposed by a Cordelier confessor 
on a young lady 3 q^ 

Novel XLII. 

Chaste perseverance of a maiden, who resisted the obstinate 
pursuit of one of the greatest lords in France— Agreeable 
issue of the affair for the demoiselle , 358 

Novel XLIII. 

Hypocrisy of a court lady discovered by the denouement of 
her amours, which she wished to conceal 370 

Novel XLIV. 
A. Cordelier received a double alms for telling the plain truth. 378 
How two lovers cleverly consummated their amours, the issue 
of which was happy , 381 

Novel XLV. 

A husband, giving the Innocents to his servant girl, plays 
upon his wife's simplicity 300 

Novel XLV I. 

A sanctimonious Cordelier attempts to debauch the wife of a 
judge, and actually ravishes a young lady, whose mother 
had foolishly authorised him to chastise her for lying too 
late in bed 30- 



A Cordelier's sermons on the subject of husbands beating 
their wives 401 

Novel XLVII. 

A gentleman of the Pays du Perche, distrusting his friend, 
obliges him to do him the mischief of which he has falsely 
suspected him 405 

Novel XLVII I. 

A Cordelier took the husband's place on his wedding-night, 
while the latter was dancing with the bridal party. 410 

Novel XLIX. 

Of a countess who diverted herself adroitly with love sport, 
and how her game was discovered 413 

Novel L. 

A lover, after a blood-letting, receives favours from his mis- 
tress, dies in consequence, and is followed by the fair one, 
who sinks under her grief 421 


Novel LI. 
Perfidy and cruelty of an Italian duke 427 

Novel LII. 

A nasty breakfast given to an advocate and a gentleman by an 
apothecary's man 432 

Novel LI 1 1. 

Madame de Neufchastel, by her dissimulation, forced the 
Prince of Belhoste to put her to such a proof as turned to 
her dishonour 436 

Novel LIV. 
A lady laughed to see her husband kissing her servant, and, 



being asked the reason, replied that she laughed at her 
shadow 444 

Novel LV. 

cunning '*'«>?ice of a Spanish widow to defraud the Mendicant 
Friars o£ a testamentary bequest made to them by her hus- 
band : 447 

Novel LVI. 

A pious lady having asked a Cordelier to provide a good hus- 
band for her daughter, he marries another Cordelier to the 
young lady, and possesses himself of her dowry — The cheat 
is discovered and punished 451 

Novel LVI I. 
Of a ridiculous milord who wore a lady's glove on his dress- 



Novel LVIII. 

How a lady of the court pleasantly revenged herself on her 
faithless lover 462 

Novel LIX. 

The same lady, whose husband was jealous of her without 
just cause, contrives to detect him in such a position with 
one of her women that he is obliged to humble himself, and 
allow his wife to live as she pleases 466 

Novel LX. 

A woman of Paris quits her husband for one of the king's 
chanters, counterfeits death, and is buried, but secretly dis- 
interred alive and well — Her husband marries another wife, 
and fifteen years afterwards is obliged to repudiate her, and 
take back his first wife 474 




Novel LXI. 

A husband became reconciled to his wife after she had lived 
fourteen or fifteen years with a canon 481 

Novel LXI I. 

A lady recounting an adventure of gallantry that had occurred 
to herself, and speaking in the third person, inadvertently 
betrayed her own secret 489 

Novel LXIII. 
Notable chastity of a French lord 493 

Novel LXIV. 

A gentleman, having been unable to mairy a person he loves, 
becomes a Cordelier in despite — Sore distress of his mis- 
tress thereat 497 

Novel LXV. 

Simplicity of an old woman, who presented a lighted candle to 
Saint Jean de Lyon, and wanted to fasten it on the forehead 
of a soldier who was sleeping on a tomb — What happened 
in consequence 5<^^2 

Novel LXVL 

Amusins: adventure of Monsieur de Vendome and the Princess 
of Na*farre 505 

Novel LXVII. 
Love and extreme hardships of a woman in a foreign land 509 

Novel LXVITI. 

A woman gives her husband powder of cantharides to make 
him love her, and goes near to killing him 513 



Novel LXIX. 

An Italian suffered himself to be duped by his servant maid, 
and was caught by his wife bolting meal in place of the 
girl • 516 

Novel LXX. 

The horrible incontinence and malice of a Duchess of Bur- 
gundy was the cause of her death, and of that of two per- 
sons who fondly loved each other 520 


Novel LXXI. 

A woman at the point of death flew into such a violent passion 
at seeing her husband kiss her servant that she recovered. . 547 

Novel LXXI I. 

Continual repentance of a nun who had lost her virginity 
without violence and without love 550 





Two children were born of the marriage of Charles of 
Orleans, Count of Angouleme, a prince of the blood royal of 
France, and Louise, the daughter of Philip, Duke of Savoy, 
and Mariiaret of Bourbon. The elder of the two was 
Margaret, the principal subject of this memoir, born on the 
nth of April, 1492 ; the younger, born on the 12th of Sep- 
tember, 1494, was the prince who succeeded Louis XI L on 
the throne of France, February, 15 15, under the name of 
Francis L 

Married when she was little more than eleven years old, 
Louise of Savoy was left a widow before she had completed 
her eighteenth year, and thenceforth devoted herself with 
exemplary assiduity to the care of her children, who repaid 
her solicitude by the warm affection they always felt for their 
mother and for each other. She was a woman of remarkable 
beauty and capacity, and her character and conduct were 
deserving, in many respects, of the eulogies which her daugh- 
ter never wearied of lavishing upon them ; but less partial 
writers have convicted her of criminal acts which brought 
disasters upon her son and her country. In the first year of 
his reign, Francis I. committed the regency of the kingdom to 
his mother, and set out on his expedition to Italy. He was 
absent but a few months ; nevertheless, this first regency 
enabled IvOuise of Savoy to fill the most important offices with 

B (xvii) 


men entirely devoted to her interests, and even to her caprices, 
and to gratify by any and every means the insatiable thirst for 
money with which she was cursed. 

In the beginning of the year 1522, Lautrec, one of the 
king's favourites, who commanded his forces in Italy, lost in a 
few days all the advantages which Francis had gained by the 
victory of Marignano. He returned to Paris with only two 
attendants, and sought an audience of the king, who refused 
at first to receive him. Finally, at the intercession of the 
Constable of Bourbon, Francis allowed Lautrec to appear be- 
fore him, and, after loading him with reproaches, demanded 
what excuse he could offer for himself. Lautrec calmly 
replied, " The troops I commanded, not having been paid, 
refused to follow me, and I was left alone." — "What!" said 
the king, " I sent you four hundred thousand crowns to Genoa, 
and Semblan^ay, the superintendent of finance, forwarded you 
three hundred thousand." — " Sire, I have received nothing." 
• — Semblangay being summoned to the presence, " Father," 
said the king (who addressed him in that way on account of 
his great age), " come hither and tell us if you have not, in 
pursuance of my order, sent M. de Lautrec the sum of three 
hundred thousand crowns ?" — " Sire," replied the superintend- 
ent, " I am prepared to prove that I delivered the sum to the 
duchess your mother, that she might employ it as you say." 
— " Very well," said the king, and w^ent into his mother's room 
to question her. Louise of Savoy threw the whole blame on 
Semblan^ay, who was immediately confronted with her. He 
persisted in his first statement, and the duchess was forced to 
confess that she had received the greater part of the sum in 
question, but she alleged that the money was due to her by the 
superintendent, and she did not see why her private income 
should be applied to the Italian expedition. Francis most 
bitterly upbraided his mother for thus embezzling the money 
of the state, but his wrath fell more heavily on the minister, 
whom he found to have been guilty of culpable complaisance 
towards her. The unfortunate Semblan^ay was arrested, com- 
missioners were appointed to examine his accounts, and, being 


condemned by their report, he was hung on the gibbet at 
Monfaucon, on the 9th of August, 1527. 

Louise of Savoy was deeply implicated in a still fouler 
transaction, which was attended with the most terrible con- 
sequences. This was the iniquitous lawsuit brought against 
the Constable of Bourbon, which was followed by his desertion 
and treason. According to all historians, the insensate love 
of the Duchess of Angouleme, then aged forty-four, for the 
constable, who was but thirty-two, was the sole cause of this 
suit ; but her cupidity, and the secret jealousy with which 
Francis I. regarded one of the handsomest, wealthiest, and 
bravest men in his kingdom, also contributed to that result. 
The object of the suit was to wrest from the constable the 
lordships bequeathed to him by Suzanne be Beaujeu, one of 
the richest heiresses in Europe, and to which Louise of Savoy 
laid claim as next of kin to the deceased. She did so at the 
instigation of the Chancellor Duprat, whose reasonings on 
this subject we are enabled to give in his own words, as 
follows : — 

" The marriage of M. Charles de Bourbon with Madame 
Suzanne was nothing else than a mere shift to stop the action 
at law which the said lord was ready to move against Madame 
de Bourbon and her daughter, on account of the estates of 
appanage and others entailed on the marriage of Jean de 
Bourbon and Maria of Berr}'. The mere apprehension of this 
contest made the said Madame de Bourbon condescend there- 
to, and to that end she dissolved the contract passed between 
M. d'Alen^on and Madame Suzanne. Hence there is a likeli- 
hood that a similar apprehension of a suit to be promoted for 
the whole inheritance of the house by two stronger parties than 
was then the said Lord of Bourbon, who was neither old 
enough nor strong enough to prosecute it, as the king and his 
mother will be, may cause some overtures to be made on the 
one side or the other to compromise and allay this difference. 

" M. de Bourbon is now but thirty-two, and Madame, the 
king's mother, cannot be more than forty at most, which is 
not too disproportioned an age for so great a lady, handsome, 


rich, and so highly qualified. Should the said Lord of Bour- 
bon agree to this marriage, why there she is at the point she 
desires, Duchess of Bourbonnais and Auvergne, and lady of 
that great heritage. If, on the contrary, he refuses, it will be 
necessary to bring this action, prosecute it vigorously, employ 
in it the authority of the king and my lady his mother, and 
spare nought to further it. This will make him bethink him- 
self, however intractable he may be, and he will be very glad 
to return into favour by this means. If not, as he is a cour- 
ageous prince, when he finds himself threatened with the loss of 
all his possessions, titles, and dignities, he will do something 
extraordinary, and will choose rather to abandon his country 
(as M. du Bellay says) than to live in it in a necessitous con- 
dition. He will withdraw out of the realm, and by so doing 
he will confiscate all. So that he cannot fail to do what is 
desired, be it how it may."* 

The Constable of Bourbon having rejected, and even it is 
said with disdain, the offer of marriage made to him, the suit 
was brought before the parliament, and was decided in favour 
of the Duchess of Angouleme. But the pleasure brought her 
by this triumph over her haughty adversary was not of long 
duration. A few months after he was despoiled of all his 
estates, Charles of Bourbon quitted France, and entered the 
service of Charles ^'. In the following year, 1524, he drove 
the French out of Italy, and on the 24th of Februar}', 1525, 
he defeated them in the famous battle of Pavia, in which 
Francis I. was taken prisoner, after receiving five wounds. 
The Duchess of Angouleme, as Regent of France, displayed 
great courage and ability under this heavy calamity. She 
soon received from her captive son the letter containing that 
memorable phrase — "Z>^ toutes choses ne nicest demeure que 
r/ionneur, et la vie qui est sauvc " — " I have lost all but honour 
and life." This letter was a great joy to her. Margaret 
wrote respecting it to her brother, " Your letter has had such 
an effect of Madame, and of all those who love you, that it 

* Histoire de Bmirbon, p. 226 r°. Dcs desseins des professions 
nobles et publiques, &c., &c. Par Ant. de Laval. Paris, 1605. 


has been to us a Holy Ghost after the sorrow of the passion. 
.... Madame has felt her strength so greatly redoubled, 
that all day and evening not a minute is lost for your affairs, 
so that you need not have any pain or care about your realm 
and your children." 

After taking all necessary measures for the internal defence 
of the kingdom, the regent and her daughter took up their 
residence at Lyon, for the purpose of the more readily receiv- 
ing news from Italy. There they learned that Charles V. had 
removed his prisoner to Madrid, and that he was becoming 
more and more exacting in the conditions for his release. 
Francis I. wrote to his mother that he was very ill, and begged 
her to come to him ; but in spite of her love for her son, she 
felt that she could not comply with his request, for it would 
have been risking the fate of the monarchy to put the regent 
along with the King of France into the Emperor's hands. 
Sacrificing, therefore, her feelings as a mother to the require- 
ments of the state, she sent her daughter Margaret instead of 
herself to Madrid. 

After she had done her part to the utmost for her son's 
release, and in the negotiations for the treaty of peace which 
was concluded at Cambria on the 5th of August, 1529, the 
Duchess of Angouleme took no further share in the govern- 
ment of the realm. She had repaired, as far as it was possible 
for her, the misfortunes earned by her conduct with regard to 
the constable. Her labours as regent, during her son's cap- 
tivity, had completely ruined her health, which had begun to 
fail before that event. In September, 1531, she was at 
Fontainebleau with her daughter and all the other ladies of 
her court ; the plague was raging in the neighbourhood, and 
Louise, who had a great dread of death, was incessantly oc- 
cupied with medicine and new receipts against disorders of 
all kinds. Her spirits were very low, and her countenance so 
changed as scarcely to be recognized by her daughter. " If 
you would like to know her pastime," Margaret writes to her 
brother, " it is that, after dinner, when she has given audience, 
instead of doing her customary works, she sends for all those 


who have any malady, whether in the legs, arms or breasts, 
and with her own hand she dresses them by way of trying an 
ointment she has, which is very singular." This horror at the 
thought of death was common to both mother and daughter. 
Brantome says of the former, " She was in her time, as I have 
heard many say who have seen and known her, a very fine 
lady, but very worldly withal, and was the same in her declin- 
iner asfe, and hated to hear discourse of death, even from 
preachers in their sermons : as if, said she, we did not know 
well enough that we must all die some time or other ; and 
these preachers, when they have nothing else to say in their 
sermons, like ignorant persons, fall to talking of death. The 
late Queen of Navarre, her daughter, liked no more than her 
mother these repetitions and preachings concerning death." * 
A few days after the date of the letter quoted in the last 
paragraph, Louise of Savoy quitted Fontainebleau for change 
of air, but was obliged to stop at Gres, a little village of the 
Gatinais, where she died on the 22d of September, 1531. We 
now turn to her daughter's history. 

Charles of Austria, Count of Flanders, afterwards the 
Emperor Charles V., was residing at the court of Louis XI L 
when Margaret of Angouleme appeared there accompanying her 
brother on his entrance into public life. The Count of Flanders 
was much struck by her appearance and her accomplishments, 
and eagerly sought her in marriage. But Louis XIL refused 
to bestow upon him the sister of the heir presumptive of the 
throne of France, and chose rather to marry her in the follow- 
ing year, December, 1509, to Charles, Duke of Alengon, a 
prince of the royal family. 

Historians have treated the memory of Margaret's first 
husband with excessive severity. He had the misfortune to 
escape unwounded from the fatal battle of Pavia, while 
endeavouring to save the remains of the routed army ; and it 
has been alleged that on his arrival at Lyon, where he found 

* Dames Galantes. 


his wife and mother-in-law, he was received by ihem both with 
the most contumelious reproaches, and that, unable to endure 
his shame and remorse, he died a few days after. That is not 
true. The battle of Pavia was fought on the 24th of February, 
1525, and the Duke of Alen^on did not die until the nth of 
April, that is to say, more than a month after his arrival in 
Lyon. It appears from the testimony of an eye-witness, brought 
to light by the last editors of the Heptameron, that he was 
carried off by a pleurisy in five days, that he was comforted 
on his death-bed by his wife and her mother, that he spoke 
with profound re^et of the king's misfortune, but that nothing 
escaped his own lips or those of the two ladies to indicate the 
faintest idea on either side that he had not done his duty at 

The first five years of Margaret's wedded life were passed 
in privacy in her duchy of Alengon, but from the date of her 
brother's accession to the throne, in January, 1515, her talents 
were employed with advantage in affairs of state. " Such 
was her discourse," says Brantome, "that the ambassadors 
who addressed her were extremely taken with it, and gave a 
high character of it to their countrvmen on their return, and 
by this she became a good assistant to the king her brother \ 
for they always waited on her after their principal audience, 
and frequently, when he had affairs of importance, he referred 
them entirely to her determination, she so well knowing how 
to engage and entertain them with her fine speeches, and being 
very artful and dexterous in pumping out their secrets : these 
qualifications the king would often say made her of great use 
to him in facilitating his affairs. So that I have heard there 
was an emulation between the two sisters who should serve 
her brother best ; the one — the Queen of Hungary — her 
brother the emperor, the other, her brother King Francis ; 
b ;t the former by war and force, th.: latter by the activity of 
her fine wit and complaisance. . . . During the imprison- 
ment of the king her brother, she was of great assistance to 
the regent her mother in governing the kingdom, keeping the 
princes and grandees quiet, and gaining upon the nobility ; 


for she was of very easy access, and won the hearts of al! 
people by the fine accomplishments she was mistress of." * 

The death of her husband, without children, six weeks 
after the battle of Pavia, left Margaret free to act as became 
her intense affection for her mother and her brother, who 
both had the most urgent need of her help. \\'ith the 
emperor's permission she embarked at Aigues Mortes for 
Spain, in spite of contrary winds, on the 27th of August, 1525 • 
hastened to Madrid, " and found her brother in so wretched 
a condition that had she not come he had died ; because she 
understood his temper and constitution better tiian all his 
physicians could do, and caused him to be treated accordingly, 
which entirely recovered him : so that the king would often 
say that without her he must have died ; and that he was so much 
obli'^ed to her for it that he should for ever acknowledge it, 
and love her (,as he did) to his dying day." f 

The task which Margaret had to accomplish at Madrid 
was one of great difficulty. In spite of the apparent cordiality 
with which she was universally treated at the imperial court, 
and the ver}' favourable disposition Charles V. always evinced 
in words, she soon perceived the hollowness of his friendly 
protestations. " Everyone tells me that he likes the king." 
she says in one of her letters, "but the experience thereof is 
small. If I had to do with good men, who understood what 
honour is, I should not care ; but it is the reverse." 
Fortunately she was not one to give way before the first 
difficulties. She tried in the beginning to win over some great 
personages in the imperial court, but afterwards perceiving 
that the men always avoided talking with her upon anv serious 
topic, she took care to address herself to their mothers, wives, 
or daughters. In a letter to Marshal de Montmorency she 
says of the Duke de Infantado, who had invited her to his 
castle of Guadalaxara, " You will tell the king that the duke 
has been warned from the court, that as he desires to please 
the emperor, neither he nor his son is to speak to me ; but 

* Brantome, Danu-s lllisires, ■{• Ibid, 


the ladies are not forbidden me, and I shall speak to them 

As for Margaret's behaviour towards Charles V., let us 
again have recourse to Brantome, whom we shall quote as 
often as we can : " She spoke so bravely and so handsomely 
to the emperor concerning his bad treatment of the king her 
brother that he was quite astonished, setting before him his 
ingratitude and felony wherewith he, the vassal, dealt towards 
his lord on account of Flanders ; then she reproached him 
with the hardness of his heart for being so devoid of pity with 
regard to so great and so good a king ; and said that acting 
in tliat manner was not the way to win a heart so noble and 
royal and so sovereign as that of the king her brother ; and 
that, should he die in consequence of his rigorous treatment, 
his death would not remain unpunished, for he had children 
who would be grown up some day, and would take signal 
vengeance. These words, pronounced so bravely, and with 
so much passion, made the emperor bethink himself, so that 
he moderated his behaviour, and visited the king, and promised 
him many fine things, which he did not, however, perform for 
that time. But if this queen spoke so well to the emperor, 
she did still more so to those of his council, where she had 
audience, and where she triumphed with her fine speaking and 
graceful manner, of which she had no lack." 

Margaret took great pains to hasten the conclusion of 
the marriage between Francis I. and Eleonore of Austria, 
widow of the King of Portugal, rightly regarding the alliance 
as the surest means of a prompt deliverance. Though the 
royal widow had been promised to the Constable of Bourbon, 
the emperor did not hesitate to sacrifice his engagement with 
the illustrious deserter to the interests of his policy. He 
himself, fascinated by Margaret's talent and graces, entertained 
for a moment the idea of a union with her, and sent a letter 
to the regent containing a distinct proposal to that effect. In 
the same letter the emperor said, with reference to the Con- 
stable of Bourbon, that "there were good marriages in France, 
and quite enough for him ; naming Madame Renee with, whom 


he might content himself." These words have been under- 
stood to imply that there had been some question of a marriage 
between the Duchess of Alen^on and the constable, but there 
is no evidence to warrant such a conjecture. There is no 
mention of anything of the sort in any of the diplomatic pieces 
exchanged between France and Spain on the subject of the 
king's liberation. They stipulate that the constable shall be 
restored to all his possessions, and even that a wife shall be 
procured for him in France ; but Margaret's name nowhere 
appears in them, nor does she herself ever speak of the 
constable in any of her numerous letters. The story of an 
amour between those two persons, which is told by Varillas 
in his Histoire de Fran9ois I., and which forms the main 
subject of a fictitious Histoire de Marguerite, published in 
1696, is totally without foundation. 

After three months and a half of negotiations, Margaret 
and her brother saw the necessity of providing for the safety 
of the crown and government of France in case the king's 
captivity should be perpetual ; and Francis signed an edict, 
in 1525, by which he ordained that the young dauphin should 
be immediately crowned ; that the regency should remain in 
his mother's hands, but that in case of her being disabled by 
sickness or other impediment, or by death, from exercising it, 
then it should devolve upon his " most dear and most beloved 
and only sister, Margaret of France, Duchess of Alen^on and 

It has been erroneously asserted that Margaret carried 
with her this act of abdication when she quitted Spain, and 
that because the emperor was aware of this fact he gave 
orders that she should be arrested the very moment her safe- 
conduct expired. It was Marshal de Montmorency who 
carried the act of abdication to France, and, in designing to 
seize the person of the princess, Charles V. had no other 
object in view than to secure himself a fresh hostage in case 
the treaty should not be executed. At her brother's instance, 
Margaret applied to the imperial court for permission to quit 
Spain. It was granted her, but in such a manner as plainly 


showed her there was more wish to retard her journey than 
to speed her upon it. She left Madrid in the beginning of 
December, and travelled at first by -easy stages, until word 
was sent her by her brother that she should hi sten ; for the 
emperor, hoping that on the 25th of the month — on which 
day her safe-conduct was to expire — she would be still in 
Spain, had given orders for her arrest. Thereupon she quitted 
her litter, got on horseback, and, making as much way in one 
day as she had previously done in four, she arrived at Salses, 
where some French lords awaited her, one hour before the 
expiry of the safe-conduct. 

In return for all Margaret's pains to hasten his deliver- 
ance, Francis I. could not do less than procure for her a fit 
husband. Negotiations were opened on the subject with 
Henry VIII. of England, but happily they came to nothing. 
There was at the court of France a young king — one, indeed, 
who was without a kingdom, but not without eminent advan- 
tages, both of mind and person. This was Henri d'Albret, 
Count of Be'arn, legitimate sovereign of Navarre, which was 
withheld from him by Charles V., contrary to treaty. Henri 
had been taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia, and had made 
his escape after a captivity of about two months, by letting 
himself down from the window by means of a rope. Having 
lived some time at the court of France, he was well known 
to IMargaret, and there is every reason to believe that the 
marriage was one of inclination — on her side, at least. It 
was celebrated, therefore, notwithstanding a considerable dis- 
parity of age. at Saint Germain en Laye, in January, 1527, 

Henri d'Albret received as his wife's portion the duchies 
of Alen^on and Berry, and the counties of Armagnac and 
Perche, which Francis entailed on his sister's issue, whether 
male or female. He also pledged himself in the marriage 
contract to force the emperor immediately to restore Navarre 
to his brother-in-law. Margaret repeatedly urged him to fulfil 
this promise, and she speaks of it in many of her letters ; but 
political exigencies always prevailed against her ; and there 
was even a clause inserted in a protocol relative to the de- 


liverance of the children of France, which ran thus : " Item, 
the same king promises not to assist or favour the King of 
Navarre to reconquer his kingdom, albeit he has married his 
most beloved and only sister." 

The indifference of Francis I. with regard to the political 
fortunes of his brother-in-law, notwithstanding the numerous 
and signal services the latter had rendered him, disgusted the 
young prince, and he resolved to quit the court, where 
Montmorency, Brion, and several other persons, his declared 
enemies, were in the ascendant. He put his design into ex- 
ecution in 1529, after the conclusion of the treaty of Cambrai, 
and Margaret retired wilh him to Be'arn, where she diligently 
applied herself, in conjunction with her husband, to all meas- 
ures capable of raising their dominions to a more flourishing 
condition, as we learn from Hilarion de la Coste. "This 
country," he says, " naturally good and fruitful, but lying in a 
bad state, uncultivated and barren, through the negligence of 
its inhabitants, quickly changed its face by their management. 
They invited husbandmen out of all the provinces of Fran«»e, 
who occupied, improved, and fertilized the lands ; they caused 
the towns to be adorned and fortified, houses and castles to 
be built ; that of Pau among others, with the finest gardens 
which were then in Europe. After having fitted up a hand- 
some place of residence, they gave orders about laws and 
good government , they established, for the differences of their 
subjects, a court to determine them without appeal ; and they 
reformed the common law of Oldron, which was used in that 
country, and which, since its last reformation in 1288, had 
been greatly corrupted. By their conversation and court they 
greatly civilized the people ; and, to guard themselves against 
a new usurpation from Spain, they covered themselves with 
Navarrins — a town upon one of the Gaves, which they forti- 
fied with strong ramparts, bastions, and half-moons, accord- 
ing to the art then in use." " This," says Bayle, " is one of 
the finest encomiums that could be bestowed on the Queen 
of Navarre." 

After the death of her first husband, Margaret retained 


full possession of the Duchy of Alen^on, not only as regarded 
its revenues, but also its civil and political administration. 
She always watched over that principality with great solicitude. 
As she never could reside in it except for very brief intervals, 
she was careful to commit its government to able men, whose 
conduct fully justified her choice. 

It was chiefly during her frequent and long residences in 
her principality of Beam that the Queen of Navarre had op- 
portunities of conferring with the advocates of the Reforma- 
tion, and there many of them, including Andrew Melanchthon, 
Ge'rard Roussel, Lefevre d'Etaple, Pierre Calvi, Charles de 
Sainte Marthe, and Calvin himself, found a refuge with her 
from persecution. The question whether or not Margaret 
ever seriously entertained the thought of abjuring the Church 
of Rome has been much debated by historians ; but that she 
very much inclined to the opinions of the Reformers is not 
disputed either by Protestant or Catholic writers ; both sides 
confess the fact. Florimond de Remond says, in his History 
of the Birth and Progress of Heresy: "It is particularly ob- 
served by all the historians of both parties that this princess 
was the sole cause, without designing any ill, of the pres- 
ervation of the French Lutherans, and that the church which 
afterwards took the name of Reformed, was not stifled in 
its cradle ; for, besides that she lent an ear to their dis- 
courses, which at first were specious, and not so bold as after- 
wards, she, with a good intention, maintained a great many 
of them in schools at her own expense, not only in France, 
but also in Germany. She took a wonderful care to preserve 
and secure those that were in danger for the Protestant religion, 
and to succour the refugees at Strasburg and Geneva. Thither 
she sent to the learned at one time a benefaction of four 
thousand livres. ... In short, this good-natured princess 
had nothing more at heart for those nine or ten years than 
to procure the escape of such as the king exposed to the 
rigour of justice. She frequently talked to him of it, and 
by little touches endeavoured to impress on his soul some pity 
for the Lutherans. 



Margaret's influence would perhaps have induced Francis 
to favour the Reformation if the extravagance of some hot- 
headed people who posted up certain placards in the year 
1534, had not exasperated him to such a degree as to make 
him become afterwards a violent persecutor of Lutheranism — 
the name then given in France to what has since been called 
Calvinism. She was obliged, from that time, to act with great 
caution, and to conduct herself in such a manner as the Cal- 
vinists have highly condemned, and which gave occasion to 
the Papists to say that she perfectly renounced her errors. 
Brant6me, after saying that this Queen was suspected of 
Lutheranism, adds, that " out of respect and love to her 
brother, who loved her entirely, and always called her his 
darling, she never made any profession or appearance of it ; 
and if she believed it, she always kept it to herself with very 
great secrecy because the king violently hated it, declaring 
that this and every new sect tended more to the destruction 
of kingdoms, monarchies, and dominions, than to the edifica- 
tion of souls." Others believe that it was not possible for 
Francis I. to be ignorant that the Queen of Navarre was a 
Lutheran in her heart ; her attachments to the party, and the 
protection she gave the fugitives for this cause, were not such 
things as could be concealed from the King of France ; he 
only affected not to know them. " The Constable de Mont, 
morency, discoursing . . . one day with the king, made no 
diflficulty or scruple to tell him that if he would quite exter- 
minate the heretics of this kingdom, he must begin with his 
court and with his nearest relations, naming the queen his 
sister. To this the king answered, 'Let us not speak of that : 
she loves me too much ; she will never believe but what I be- 
lieve, or take up a religion to the prejudice of my state." * 

Catholic writers assert that some years before her death 
the Queen of Navarre acknowledged her religious errors ; and 
De Remond even goes so far as to imply that she denied on 
her death-bed having ever swer\'ed from the standard of 

* Brantome Da>nes Ilhistres. 


Roman orthodoxy. Bayle comments on the remarks of this 
writer in a singularly earnest and noble passage. 

" I do not examine," he says, " whether Florimond de 
Remond has it from good authority that she protested at her 
death that what she had done for the followers of the new 
opinions proceeded rather from compassion than from any 
ill-will to the ancient religion of her fathers. But, granting 
her protestation to be sincere, I maintain that there was 
something more heroic in her compassion and generosity than 
there would have been had she been persuaded that the fugi- 
tives she protected were orthodox. For a princess or any 
other woman to do good to those whom she takes to be of the 
household of the faith is no extraordinary thing, but the com- 
mon effect of a moderate piety. But for a queen to grant 
her protection to people persecuted for opinions which she 
believes to be false ; to open a sanctuary to them ; to pre- 
serve them from the flames prepared for them ; to furnish 
them with a subsistence ; liberallv to relieve the troubles and 
inconveniences of their exile, is an heroic magnanimity which 
has hardly any precedent ; it is the effect of superiority of 
reason and genius which very few can reach to ; it is the 
knowing how to pity the misfortune of those who err, 
and admire at the same time their constancy to the dictates 
of their conscience ; it is the knowing how to do justice to 
their good intentions, and to the zeal they express for 
truth in general ; it is the knowing that they are mistaken 
in the hypothesis, but that in the thesis they conform to 
the immutable and eternal laws of order, which require us 
to love the truth, and to sacrifice to that the temporal con- 
veniences and pleasures of life ; it is, in a word, the know- 
ing how to distinguish in one and the same person his op- 
position to particular truths which he does not know, and 
his love for truth in general ; a love which he evidences by 
his great zeal for the doctrines he believes to be true. 
Such was the judicious distinction the Queen of Navarre 
was able to make. It is difficult for all sorts of persons to 
arrive at this science ; but more especially difficult for a 



princess like her, who had been educated in the commu- 
nion of Rome, where nothing has been talked of for many 
ages but fagots and gibbets for those who err. Family 
prejudices strongly fortified all the obstacles which educa- 
tion had laid in the way of this princess ; for she entirely 
loved the king her brother, an implacable persecutor of 
those they called heretics, a people whom he caused to be 
burned without mercy wherever the indefatigable vigilance 
of informers discovered them. I cannot conceive by what 
method this Queen of Navarre raised herself to so high a 
pitch of equity, reason, and good sense ; it was not through 
an indifference as to religion, since it is certain she had a 
great degree of piety, and studied the Scriptures with sin- 
gular application. It must, therefore, have been the excel- 
lence of her genius, and the greatness of her soul, that dis- 
covered a path to her which scarcely anyone knows. It 
will be said, perhaps, that she needed only to consult the 
primitive and general ideas of order, which most clearly 
show that involuntary errors hinder not a man who entirely 
loves God, as he has been able to discover him after all 
possible inquiries, from being reckoned a servant of the 
true God, and that we ought to respect in him the rights of 
the true God. But I might immediately answer that this 
maxim is of itself subject to great disputes, so far is it from 
being clear and evident ; besides that these primitive ideas 
hardly ever appear to our understanding without limitations 
and modifications which obscure them a hundred ways, ac- 
cording to the different prejudices contracted by education. 
The spirit of party, attachment to a sect, and even zeal for 
orthodoxy, produce a kind of ferment in the humours of 
our body ; and hence the medium through which reason 
ought to behold those primitive ideas is clouded and ob- 
scured. These are infirmities which will attend our reason 
as long as it shall depend on the ministry of organs. It is 
the same thing to it as the low and middle region of the air, 
the seat of vapours and meteors. There are but very few 
persons who can rise above these clouds, and place them" 


selves in a true serenity. If anyone could do it, we must 
say of him what Virgil said of Daphnis : 

" Candidus insuetum miratur lumen Olympi, 
Sub pedibusque videt nubes et sidera Daphnis." 

We have seen how the Constable de Montmorency 
endeavoured to poison the mind of Francis I. against his 
sister, Margaret heard of this, and resented it the more 
strongly, as she had always behaved to Montmorency as a 
friend, and especially she had espoused his interests in op- 
position to those of his rival, Admiral Brion. The sequel 
of this afifair, as related by Brantome, is curious : " She 
never afterwards liked the constable, and she helped greatly 
towards his disgrace and banishment from court : insomuch 
that the day on which Madam the Princess of Navarre " 
(Margaret's only daughter) " was married to the Duke of 
Cleves at Chasteleraud, as she was to be led to church, 
being so heavily laden with jewels, and cloth of gold and 
silver, that by reason of the weakness of her body she could 
not walk " (she was but twelve years old), " the king com- 
manded the constable to take his little niece in his arms 
and carry her to the church ; at which the whole court was 
very much surprised, as being an office not suitable or 
honourable enough in such a ceremony for the constable, 
and which might have been given to some other; where- 
with the Queen of Navarre seemed not at all displeased, 
and said. * There is a man who would ruin me with the king 
my brother, and who serves at present to carry my daugh- 
ter to church.' I have this story from the person I have 
mentioned, and also that the constable was much displeased 
with this office, and greatly mortified to be made such a 
spectacle to all the company, and said, ' There is an end 
of all my favour ; farewell, host.' And so it happened ; for 
after the entertainment and the wedding dinner he was 
dismissed, and departed immediately." 

Judging from several original portraits of Margaret 


which are preserved in the libraries of France, her last 
editors infer that her beauty, so much celebrated by the 
poets of her time, consisted chiefly in the dignity of her 
deportment, and the sweet and cheerful expression of her 
countenance. Her eyes, nose, and mouth were large. She 
retained no marks of the small-pox with which she was at- 
tacked before middle age, and she preserved the freshness 
of her complexion to a late period. Like her brother, to 
whom she bore a strong likeness, she was tall and stately ; 
but her imposing air was tempered by extreme affability 
and a merry humour. Her enthusiastic panegyrist, Sainte 
Marthe, says of her, " Seeing her humanely receive every- 
body, refuse none, and patiently listen to each, thou wouldst 
have promised thyself an easy access to her; but if she 
cast her eyes on thee, there was in her face I know not 
what divinit}^, that would have so confounded thee that 
thou wouldst have been unable, I do not say to walk one 
step, but even to stir one foot to approach her." Though 
conforming on special occasions to her brother's sumptuous 
tastes, Margaret's personal habits were remarkably simple. 
She dressed plainly, and, after the loss of her infant son, 
almost always in black. Brantome, speaking of the ex- 
travagant pomp displayed by Caesar Borgia when he visited 
France, remarks that the great Queen of Navarre never 
had more than "three sumpter mules and six for her litters, 
though she had three or four chariots for her ladies." Her 
biographers have generally assert J that this frugality was 
imposed on Margaret by the precarious state of her fortune ; 
but it is rather to be attributed to her sober character and 
her munificent charity. The supposition that her means 
were inadequate to her rank is manifestly erroneous ; for 
at the very time when they are said to have been lowest, 
we find her declining to receive from Henry H. payment, 
of a considerable sum lent iive-and-twenty years before to 
his predecessor in a moment of financial difficulty, and de- 
siring that the amount should be given to the sisters of 
her first husband, the Duke d'Alenyon. 


Distinguished as Margaret was by her mental powers 
and graces, she was still more admirable for the warmth 
and tenderness of her affections. These, it is to be feared, 
were but inadequately requited, and would have been a 
source of unhappiness to her, were it not for that precious 
prerogative which loving natures enjoy, to find pleasure in 
self-sacrifice and suffering. There was little community of 
feeling between her and the Duke d'Alengon, and their mar- 
riage was childless. The husband of her choice, Henry of 
Navarre, was a handsome, brave cavalier, of respectable ca- 
pacity, and passably good-humoured, but he had little sym- 
pathy with his wife's literary and theological tastes, and the 
difference in their ages was not favourable to connubial con- 
cord. It is even said that he treated her at times with a 
roughness unworthy of a preux chevalier. Hilarion de la 
Coste says that Henry, " having been informed that there 
was used in his wife's chamber some form of prayer and 
instruction contrary to that of his fathers, entered it with a 
resolution to punish the minister, but, finding they had con- 
trived his escape, the weight of his anger fell upon the 
queen, to whom he gave a box on the ear, saying to her, 
' Madam, you want to be too knowing ; ' and immediately gave 
advice of it to King Francis." Brantome, having given 
some instances of matrimonial discord between princes, adds 
this : " And lately King Henry d'Albret, with Queen Margaret 
of Valois, as I have it from good hands, who treated her very 
ill, and would have done still worse had it not been for King 
Francis, her brother, who spoke home and roughly to him, 
and charged him with threats to honour the queen his sis- 
ter in regard to the rank she bore." The whimsical behaviour 
of this King of Navarre on the occasion of the birth of his 
grandson, afterwards Henry IV. of France, may enable us 
to guess how far he was capable of tenderness and delicacy 
of feeling in his conduct to his wife. On hearing that his 
daughter was pregnant, he recalled her from Picardy, where 
she was residing with her husband. The princess arrived in 
Pau on the 4th of December, after a journey of twenty da) s, 


and nine davs afterwards her child was born. Her father had 
promised that he would put his will into her hands as soon 
as she should be delivered, but on condition that in her 
labour she should sing a song : " To the end," said he ; 
"that you may not bring me a crying and ill-humoured 
child." The princess promised that she would, and had 
so much courage and resolution that, in spite of th'^ pains 
of labour, she sang, as she heard him enter her chamber, a 
Beamish ditty, the burden of which was, Noste Dotme deou 
cap deou pan, adjouda mi en aqueste houre — that is, " Our 
Lady of the bridge-end, help me at this hour." As soon 
as the child was born, his grandfather took him out of the 
midwife's hands, carried him into his cabinet, and there 
plentifully rubbed his lips and gums with garlic, by which 
horrible treatment the poor infant very narrowly escaped 

The intense affection w'hich Margaret bestowed on her 
brother he returned as fully as it was in his nature to do. 
His conduct towards her was marked by that imperious ego- 
tism of which he gave so many unfortunate proofs in the most 
important circumstances of his life. He always called her 
7na miguofifie, but he exacted unsparingly from " his darling " 
the surrender of her opinions, inclinations, and feelmgs to 
the claims of his policy or his caprice. He even took from 
her her only surviving child when it was but two years old, 
and had it brought into the chateau of Plessis les Tours, 
where the poor mother saw it only at long intervals during 
her unfrequent journeys in France. But Margaret was never 
weary of making sacrifices for the brother she idolized ; and 
it is remarkable, not less as a characteristic of the age than 
of herself, that, notwithstanding the propriety of her per- 
sonal conduct and her ardent piety, she was more than tol- 
erant of the illicit amours to which her splendid brother 
openly addicted himself. She composed the devices for the 
jewels which Francis I. presented to Madame de Chateau- 
briant ; she maintained a most friendly intercourse with 
Madame d'Etampes, and to her she presented her poem of Z<? 


Coche^ or the Dehat d'At/ioi/r, in which she pronounced a 
most pompous eulogy on the beauty and the virtues of that 
royal mistress. 

The death, in April, 1547, of that brother whom she had 
loved so much, and to whose glory and welfare she had 
devoted her existence, was a heavy blow to Margaret.* She 
survived him but two years, and that brief remnant of her life 
was spent chiefly in seclusion and religious abstraction from 
the concerns of the world. Nevertheless, it is not correctly 
stated by a recent English writer t that during that period 
" no solicitations could induce the queen to emerge from her 
seclusion, or interest herself as formerly in literature or 
politics." In the very next paragragh the same writer con 
tradicts this loose assertion, by saying that Margaret " often 
solaced her grief by composing elegies and plaintive songs on 
her misfortune." Besides this, it is certain that the Queen of 
Navarre was occupied but a few months before her death in 
the composition of her book of tales ; for the 66th novel of 
her Heptameron recounts a ludicrous adventure which befel 
her daughter, Joanne d'Albret, and the Duke de Vendome, 
shortly after their marriage in October, 1548. Margaret's 
health began to decline in the summer of the following year, 
and she expired at the chateau of Audos, in Bigorre, on the 
2ist of December, 1549, in her 57th year. 

Amidst the multifarious occupations of her well-filled life, 
the Queen of Navarre found leisure to compose a great num- 
ber of literary works, besides carrying on a voluminous cor- 
respondence with her brother, his ministers, and many other 
persons. Her productions in verse, the greater part of which 
have been printed, consist of eight long poems on sacred, 

* " In his last sickness," says Brantome, " I have heard that she spoke to this 
purpose : ' Should the courier who brings me news of the king my brother's 
recovery, be he ever so tired, harassed, mud-bespattered, and dirty, 1 would embrace 
and kiss him as the finest pnnce and gentleman of France ; and should he want a 
bed, and not be able to find one to repose himselt, 1 would give him mme, and 
gladly he on the ground, for sake of the good news he brought.' " , 

I The Life oj Marguerite d'Angoidone, Queen of Navarre, Sic. By Martha 
Walker Freer. 2 vols. London, 1S54. 

xxxviii MEMOIR OF MA R GA RE T, 

amorous, or historical subjects ; eight dramatic pieces, includ- 
ing tour mysteries, two moralities, and two farces ; poetical 
epistles to her brother, her mother, and the King of Navarre ; 
and rondeaux, dixains, songs, and other small pieces. Accord- 
ing to the last editors of the Heptameron, some of Margaret's 
fugitive pieces, published by them for the first time, are 
superior as literary works to her more serious compositions, 
and in them alone are to be found the gayety and grace for 
which she has been so much celebrated by her contemporaries. 
There is one among them, of a graver character, which appears 
to us so remarkable for its impassioned force and its full 
and flowing rhythm that we gladly lay it before the reader : — 

Souvieigne voiis des lermes respandues, 
Qui par regret tres grand fiirent rendues 
Sur vostre tant amyable visaige ; 
Souvieigne voiis du dangercux oultraige 
Que vous cuida faire mon povre coeur, 
Presse par trop d'une e.xtreme douleur, 
Ouand il forca la voix de satistaire 
Au tres grand mal oil ne scavois que faire, 
Tant qu'a peu pres la pleur fut entendu 
Souvieigne vous du sens qui fut perdu, 
Tant que raison, parolle & contenance 
N'eurent pouvoir, ny force, ny puissance, 
De desclairer ma double passion. 
Ny aussi ]jeu ma grand affection ; 
Souvieigne vous du coeur qui bondissoit 
Pour la tristesse en quoy il perissoit ; 
Souvieigne vous des souspirs tres ardens 
Qui k la foule en despict de mes dentz 
Sortoient dehors, pour mieulx me soulaiger ; 
Souvieigne vous du peril & danger 
Ou nous estions, dont nous ne tenions compt 
Car vraye amour ne congnoist paour ny honte ; 
Souvieigne vous de nostre amour honneste, 
Dont ne devons pour nul baisser la teste, 
Car nous scavons tons deux certainement 
Qu'honneur & Dieu en sont le fondement ; 
Souvieigne vous du tr^s chaste embrasser 
Dont vous ne moy ne nous pouvions laisser ; 
Souvieigne vous do vostre foy promise 
• Par vostre main dedans la mienne mise ; 

Souvieigne vous de mes doubtes passees, 


Que vous avez en une heure effass^es, 
Prenant en vous si grande securel6, 
Que je m'asseure en vostre fermete ; 
Souvieigne vous que vous avez remis 
Du plus parfaict de voz nieilleurs amys 
Le coeur, I'esprit & Je corps en repos, 
Par vostre honneste & vertueux propos 
Aiiquel je veulx adjouster telle foy. 
Que plus n'aura doubte pouvoir sus moy ; 
Souvieigne vous que je n'ay plus de paine 
Que ceste l4 que avecques md^ je maine : 
C'est le regret de perdre vostre veue, 
Par qui souvent tant de joye ay receue ; 
Souvieigne vous du regard de vostre oeil, 
Dont I'esloingner me faict mourir de dueil ; 
Souvieigne vous du lieu tres mal par6 
Ou fust de moy trop de bien separe ; 
Souvieigne vous des heures qui sonnoyent, 
Et du regret qu'en sonnant me donneient, 
Voyant le temps & I'heure s'advancer 
Du despartir ou ne fays que penser ; 
Souvieii'.ne vous de I'adieu redouble 
A chascun pas, de I'espent trouble, 
Du coeur trancy & du corps affoibly, 
Et ne mectez le triste oeil en oubly ; 
Souvieigne voiis de la parfaicte amour. 
Qui durera sans cesser nuyct & jour, 
Qui a dens moy si bien painct vostre ymaige, 
Que je n'ay riens sinon vostre visaige, 
Vostre parler, vostre regard tant doulx 
Devant mes yeulx ; bref, je n'y ay que vous, 
Vous suppliant, o amye estimee, 
Plus que nulle aultre & de moy tant aymee, 
Souvieigne vous d'immortel souvenir 
De vostre amy, & le vueilles tenir 
Dens vostre coeur seul amy & parfaict, 
Ainsi que vous dedens le sien il faict. 

On the whole, the Queen of Navarre has been far more 
successful in the poetical treatment of secular than of sacred 
subjects, and for obvious reasons. We cannot speak from 
personal knowledge of her efforts in the latter field, but we are 
very well disposed to accept the judgment pronounced upon 
them by the Bibliophiles Frangais, that they are barren of 
poetry, and brimful of tediousness, consistmg, as they do, of 
long paraphrases of Scripture, theological dissertations, and 


metaphysico-devotional rhapsodies. One of them, however, 
deserves more special mention, as marking the author's dissent 
from the religion of Rome. " The mirror of the sinful soul " 
{Miroir de fame pecheresse) " was composed in a strain very 
unusual in the Church of Rome, there being no mention made 
in it either of male or female saints, or of merits, or of any 
other purgatory than the blood of Jesus Christ." * The work 
was consequently assailed \vith fierce denunciations from the 
orthodox pulpits. A comedy was acted by the students of the 
College of Navarre, in which the queen was represented as a 
Fury of Hell, and the Sorbonne decreed at least, if it did not 
promulgate, a censure upon her heretical production. Mar- 
garet complained to her brother, and the result was that 
Nicolas Cop, rector of the Sorbonne, expressly disowned the 
censure pronounced by the body over which he presided ; the 
student-comedians, and the most intemperate of the preachers, 
were committed to prison \ and Noel Beda, syndic of the 
faculty of theology, who had been the most ardent promoter 
of the attacks on the king's sister, died in confinement at Mont 
Saint Michel. 

The Heptameron is, of all Margaret's works, the one on 
which her literary reputation has mainly rested since her death. 
We have sketched its bibliographical history in our preface, 
and it now remains for us to speak of its composition. Dunlop, 
who may be considered as expressing the general opinion of 
literary historians, says that " few of the tales composed in it 
are original ; for, except about half-a-dozen which are histori- 
cally true, and are mentioned as having fallen under the 
knowledge and observation of the Queen of Navarre, they 
may all be traced to the Fabliaux, the Italian novels, and the 
Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles." On the contrary, the last editors j 
of the Heptameron allege that " its distinctive character is, 
that it reproduces, under a tolerably transparent veil, real 
events which happened at the court of France, especially in 
the reigns of Louis XI., Charles VIII., Louis XII., and 
Francis I. Of the seventy-two tales which compose the Hep- 

* Beza Hist. Ecclesiasf, book i. p. 5. 



tameron, we know but five or six which are evidently borrowed 
from the French conteurs of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and 
fifteenth centuries. This character of truth, which has not everi. 
been suspected by the majority of those who have spoken of 
this collection, may be demonstrated in the most evident 
manner." This opinion very nearly agrees with the Queen of 
Navarre's own statement in her prologue, that all the tales she 
was about to relate were founded on fact, and it is corrobo- 
rated by many evidences direct and indirect. Brantome, for 
instance, tells us that " his mother knew some secrets of the 
novels, and that she was one of the confabulators " {iine des 
devisantes). He analyzes many of tlie tales in the Heptameron, 
certifies the authenticity of some of them, and makes known 
to us the real names of certain persons whom Margaret has 
introduced into them. From him we learn that, under the 
title of a Princess of Flanders, the Queen has portrayed her- 
self, and related the audacious attempt made upon her chastity 
by Admiral de Bonnivet. Another notable verification of the 
Heptameron is supplied by the Bibliophiles Frangais. The 
first novel relates a murder committed by a proctor at Alen^on, 
and mentions that the murderer obtained letters of pardon 
from the King of France at the intercession of the King ot 
England. The Bibliophiles have discovered these very letters 
in the French archives, and found them to agree perfectly 
with the Queen of Navarre's narrative. 

The more closely to imitate her Florentine model, she in- 
troduces her tales by describing a remarkable accident of 
nature by which the supposed narrators are thrown together 
for a season and driven to seek for some device to while away 
the time. Certainly there is no comparison between the fine 
description of the plague at Florence, which opens the 
Decameron, and that multiplicity of little events which the 
Queen has accumulated in her prologue ; nevertheless, the 
contrivance of the latter is sufficiently ingenious, and bears a 
considerable resemblance to the frame of the Canterbury 
Tales. Ten French ladies and gentlemen, intercepted by a 
perilous inundation on their return from the baths of Caute- 


rets, take shelter in a monastery of the Pyrenees, where they 
are forced to remain till a bridge should be thrown over an 
impassable stream, and amuse themselves meanwhile by re- 
lating stories in a beautiful meadow on the banks of the Gave. 
As to the persons into whose mouths Margaret has put her 
stories, it is natural enough to suppose that she chose them 
from her own family, and from among the lords and ladies who 
were usually about her. Madame Oisille, for instance, appears 
to be Margaret's mother, that name being almost an anagram 
of Louise. She is represented as an aged widow of great 
experience, who is as a mother to the other ladies. The rest 
of the company call each other simply by their respective 
names, but in addressing Oisille they always say Madame. 
Many of the novels which turn on the debauchery and wicked- 
ness of the Franciscans or Cordeliers are related by Oisille. 
The tone in which she speaks of them accords with the con- 
cluding passage of the journal of Louise of Savoy : " In the 
year 1522, in December, my son and I, by the grace of the 
Holy Ghost, began to know the hypocrites white, black, grey, 
smoky, and of all colours, from whom God in his infinite 
mercy and goodness preserve and defend us, for if Jesus 
Christ is not a liar, there is not among all mankind a more 
dangerous generation." 

Hircan, another of the ten interlocutors, may very prob- 
ably represent one of Margaret's two husbands, but which of 
the two we are not prepared to say. The Bibliophiles infer 
that it is the Duke d'Alenyon, from the deference with which 
he is treated by the rest of the gentlemen ; but surely this 
would apply quite as well to the King of Navarre. In the 
prologue, Hircan says to Simontault, " Since you have been 
the first to speak, it is right that you should take the \ea.d, /or 
in sport we are al/ equal.'' Hircan's wife, Parlamente, who was 
never idle or melancholy, is no doubt Margaret herself ; and 
if Hircan is the Duke d'Alenyon, then Simontault is probably 
the King of Navarre, or vice versd. With respect to the other 
six persons, the Bibliophiles Fran9ais offer no conjectures, or 
only such as seem to us of little weight. 


The conversations in the Heptameron on the characters 
and incidents of the last related tale, and which generally 
introduce the subject of the new one, are much longer than in 
the Italian novels, and indeed occupy nearly one-half of the 
work. Some of the remarks are quaint and comical, others 
are remarkable for their naivete, while a few breathe the 
conceits of the Italian sonneteers ; for example, " It is said 
that jealousy is love, but I deny it ; for though jealousy be 
produced by love as ashes are by fire, yet jealousy extinguishes 
love, as ashes smother the flame." These epilogues are well 
worthy of attention, as embodying the author's personal views 
on sundry important topics, such as friendship, love, and con- 
jugal fidelity \ and also as a curious model of conversation 
among persons of quality in the first half of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Especially curious is it to observe in them how stories 
and comments of a very ticklish character are mingled with 
reflections imbued with the most exalted piety ; how the com- 
pany prepare themselves by devotional exercises for telling 
tales which are often anything but edifying ; and how, when 
the day's work is done, they duly praise the Lord for giving 
them the grace to spend their time so pleasantly. Margaret's 
contemporaries were by no means shocked at these incon- 
gruities, as our more skeptical age would be. The causes of 
this difference would be an interesting subject of inquir)'^, but 
here we can only note the fact. To give another instance of it : 
When Clement Marot published his poetical versions of some 
of the Psalms, they quickly superseded all other songs through- 
out the country. The press could not throw off copies fast 
enough to supply the demand. Each of the princes and 
courtiers appropriated a psalm, and sang it to such a tune as 
he thought fit. Henry II. chose the psalm, Ainsi qiion oyt le 
cerf braire, and made a hunting song of it. His mistress, 
Diane de Poitiers, jigged out Du fond de ma pensee to the 
popular dance tune, Le branle de Poitoii ; and Catherine de 
Medici, in allusion to her husband's infidelities, profanely 
appropriated Ne veuillez pas., b Sire, set to the air, Des bouffo7is. 

We have alluded to the questionable morality of the 


Heptameron, and certainly we will not endorse the argument 
of its new editors, who combat the common opinion that it 
should be classed among licentious books, upon the plea that 
" the Queen of Navarre excels in winding up a tale of extreme 
gallantry with moral reflections of the most rigorous kind." 
The best apology for the book is, that its author has not 
exceeded the allowed license of good society in her own age, 
and that she is not to be judged by the standard of ours. 
Free as her language must often appear to us, it will be found, 
upon closer scrutiny, to be always controlled by certain con- 
ventional rules of propriety. Some grossly obscene passages, 
for which she has incurred unmerited censure, prove now to 
have been the v/ork of those manifold offenders, her first 








Dagoucin , 


Louise de Savoie. 

Margaret of Angoul6me. 
Henry of Navarre. 

Aim6e Motier de la 

Anne de Vivonne, Mme. 

de Bourdeille. 
Frangois de Bourdeille. 

Nicolas Dangu, Abb6 de 

M. de Burye. 
Isabeau d'Albret. 

Saffredent, Ren6 de Rohan. 


Franck, G6nin, Lacroix, Le 
Roux de Lincy. 

Same authorities. 

Franck. M. Le Roux de Lincy 
suggested Charles of Alengon, 
but the arguments of M. 
Franck carry conviction, 

Franck. M. Le Roux suggested 
Mme, de Chatillon, who is 
obviously far too old. M. 
Montaiglon gives his vote to 
the daughter of Aim6e: 
FranQoise de Silly. 

Le Roux de Lincy, follov^ed by 
all authorities. 

Franck, followed by Montaiglon. 
There is no ground for sup- 
posing with Le Roux that 
Simontault represents Henri 

Franck. Lacroix has declared 
for the Comte D'Agoust. 

Franck and Montaiglon. 

Mary Robinson. Le Roux de- 
clared for Mme, de Chateau- 
briand, Franck for Mme. de 

Mary Robinson. Franck in- 
terprets this character as Mont- 
p6zat (a score of years too 
old), Le Roux as Bonnivet, 
to whom the same objection 
must be made. 


At the beginning of September, when the baths of the 
Pyrenees commenced to have effect, several persons from 
France, Spain, and other countries were assembled at those of 
Cauterets, some to drink the waters, others to bathe in them, 
or to be treated with mud ; remedies so marvellous, that the 
sick abandoned by physicians go home cured from Cauterets. 
My intention is not to declare either the situation or the vir- 
tue of the baths ; but only to relate what is pertinent to the 
matter I am about to describe. The patients remained at 
these baths until they found themselves sufficiently improved 
in health ^ but then, as they were preparing to return home, 
there fell such excessive and extraordinary rains, that it 
seemed as though God had forgotten His promise to Noah, 
and was again about to destroy the world with water. The 
houses of Cauterets were so flooded that it was impossible to 
abide in them. Those who had come from Spain returned 
over the mountains the best way they could. But the French 
lords and ladies, thinking to return to Tarbes as easily as 
they came, found the rivulets so swollen as to be scarcely 
fordable ; and when they arrived at the Bearnese Gave, which 
was not two feet deep when they crossed it on their way to 
the baths, they found it so swollen and so impetuous that 
they were forced to turn out of their direct course and look 
for bridges. These, however, being only of wood, had been 
carried away by the violence of the current. Some attempted 
to ford the stream by crossing it several together in one body ; 


but they were swepr away with such rapidity that the rest had 
no inclination to follow their example. They separated, 
therefore, either to look for another route or because they 
were not of the same way of thinking. Some crossed the 
mountains, and, passing through Aragon, arrived in the county 
of Roussillon, and from there to Narbonne. Others went 
straight to Barcelona, and thence by sea to Maiseilles or to 

But a widow of long experience, named Oisille, determined 
to banish from her mind the fear of bad roads, and repair to 
Notre Dame de Serrance ; not that she was so superstitious 
as to suppose that the glorious Virgin would quit her place at 
her son's right hand to come and dwell in a desert land, but 
only because she wished to see the holy place, of which she 
had heard so much ; and also because she was assured that 
if there were any means of escaping from a danger, the monks 
were sure to find it out. She met with no end of difficulties ; 
but at last she arrived, after having passed through places 
almost impracticable, and so difficult to climb and descend 
that, notwithstanding her age and her weight, she was com- 
pelled to perform the greater part of the journey on foot. 
But the most piteous thing was that most of her servants and 
horses died on the way, so that she arrived at Serrance at- 
tended by one man and one woman only. She was, however, 
charitably received by the monks. 

There were also among the French party two gentlemen, 
who had gone to the baths rather to accompany the ladies 
they loved than for any need they themselves had to use the 
waters. These gentlemen, seeing that the company was 
breaking up, and that the husbands of their mistresses were 
taking them away, thought proper to follow them at a distance, 
without acquainting anyone with their purpose. The two 
married gentlemen and their wives arrived one evening at the 
house of a man who was more a bandit than a peasant. The 
two young gentlemen lodged at a cottage hard by, and hear- 
ing a great noise about midnight, they rose with their varlets, 


and inquired of their host what was all thar tumult. The 
poor man, who was in a great fright, told them it was some 
robbers who were come to share the booty that was in the 
house of their comrade the bandit. The gentlemen instantly 
seized their arms, and hastened with their varlets to the aid 
of the ladies, holding it a far happier fate to die with them 
than to live without them. On reaching the bandit's house, 
they found the first gate broken open, and the two gentlemen 
and their servants defending themselves valorously ; but as 
they were outnumbered by the bandits, and the married gen- 
tlemen were much wounded, they were beginning to give way, 
having already lost a great number of their servants. The 
two gentlemen, looking in at the windows, saw the two ladies 
weeping and crying so hard that their hearts swelled with pity 
and love, and falling on the bandits like two enraged bears 
from the mountains, they laid about them with such fury that 
a great number of the bandits fell, and the rest fled foi 
safety to a place well known to them. The gentlemen having 
defeated these villains, the owner of the house being among 
the slain, and having learnt that the wife was still worse than 
himself, despatched her after him with a sword-thrust. They 
then entered a room on the basement, where they found one 
of the married gentlemen breathing his last. The other had 
not been hurt, only his clothes had been pierced and his 
sword broken ; and seeing the aid which the two had rendered 
him, he embraced and thanked them, and begged they would 
continue to stand by him, to which they assented with great 
good-will. After having seen the deceased buried, and con- 
soled the wife as well as they could, they departed under the 
guidance of Providence, not knowing whither they were going, 
If you would know the names of the three gentlemen, thai 
of the married one was Hircan, and his wife's Parlamente. 
The widow's name was Longarine. One of the young gentle- 
men was called Dagoucin, and the other SaiTredent. They 
were in the saddle all day, and towards evening they descried 
a belfry, to which they made the best of their way, not with 


out toil and trouble, and were humanely welcomed by the 
abbot and the monks. The abbey is called St. Savin's. The 
abbot, who was of a very good house, lodged them honour- 
ably, and on the way to their lodgings begged them to ac- 
quaint him with their adventures. After they had recounted 
them, he told them they were not the only persons who had 
beim unfortunate, for there were in another room two ladies 
who had escaped as great a danger, or worse, inasmuch as 
vhey had encountered not men but beasts ; for these poor 
ladies met a bear from the mountain half a league this side of 
Peyrchite, and fied from it with such speed that their horses 
"^dropped dead under them as they entered the abbey gates. 
Two of their women, who arrived long after them, reported 
that the bear had killed all their men-servants. The two 
ladies and the three gentlemen then went into the ladies' 
chamber, where they found them in tears, and saw they were 
Nomerfide and Ennasuite. They all embraced, and after 
mutually recounting their adventures, they began to be com- 
forted through the sage exhortations of the abbot, counting it 
a great consolation to have so happily met again ; and next 
day they heard mass with much devotion, and gave thanks to 
God for that he had delivered them out of such perils. 

Whilst they were all at mass, a man came running into the 
church in his shirt, and shouting for help, as if some one was 
close at his heels. Hircan and the other gentlemen hastened 
to him to see what was the matter, and saw two men pursu- 
ing him, sword in hand. The latter would have fled upon 
seeing so many people, but Hircan and his party were too 
swift for them, and they lost their lives. On his return, Hir- 
can discovered that the man in his shirt was one of their com- 
panions named Geburon. His story was that, being at a cot- 
tage near Peyrchite, he had been surprised in his bed by 
three men. Springing out in his shirt he had seized his 
sword, and mortally wounded one of them ; and whilst the 
two others were busy succouring their comrade, GeburoOj 
seeing .'hat the odds were two to one against him, and that he 


was naked whilst they wore armour, thought his safest course 
was to take to his heels, especially as his clothes would not 
impede his running. He too praised God for his deliver- 
ance, and he thanked those who had revenged him. 

After the company had heard mass and dined, they sent 
10 see if it were possible to pass the Gave river, and were in 
consternation at hearing that the thing was impracticable, at 
which the abbot entreated them many times to remain with 
him until the waters had abated. This they agreed to for 
that day, and in the evening, when they were about to go to 
bed, there arrived an old monk who used to come regularly 
every September to our Lady of Serrance. Being asked news 
of his journey, he stated that, in consequence of the flood, he 
had come by the mountains, and travelled over the worst 
roads he had ever seen in his life. He had beheld a very sad 
spectacle. A gentleman named Simontault, tired of waiting 
till the river should subside, had resolved to attempt the pas- 
sage, relying on the goodness of his horse. He had made 
his domestics place themselves round him to break the force 
of the current ; but when they reached the middle of the 
stream, the worst mounted were swept away and were seen no 
more. Thereupon the gentleman made again for the bank 
he had quitted. His horse, good as it was, failed him at his 
need ; but by God's will this happened so near the bank that 
the gentleman was able at last to scramble on all fours to the 
land, not without having drunk a good deal of water, and so 
exhausted that he could hardly sustain himself. Happily for 
him, a shepherd, leading back his sheep to the fields in the 
evening, found him seated on the stones, dripping wet, and 
deploring the loss of his people, who had perished before his 
eyes. The shepherd, who understood his need both from his 
appearance and his words, took him by the hand and led him 
to his cabin, where he made a little fire, and dried him as well 
as he could. That same evening, Providence conducted to 
the cabin the old monk, who told him the way to Our Lady 
of Serrance, and assured him that he would be better lodged 


there than elsewhere, and that he would find there an aged 
widow named Oisille, who had met with an adventure as dis- 
tressing as his own. 

The company testified extreme joy at hearing the names 
of the good dame Oisille and the gentle knight Simontault ; 
and everyone praised God for having saved the master and 
mistress after the loss of the servants. Parlamente especially 
gave hearty thanks to God, for she had long had a most 
affectionate servant in Simontault. They inquired carefully 
about the road to Serrance, and though the good old man 
represented it to them as very difficult, nothing could stop 
them from setting out that very day, so well provided with all 
things necessary that nothing was left them to wish for. The 
abbot supplied them with the best horses in Lavedan, good 
Bearnese cloaks, wine, and plenty of victuals, and a good 
escort to conduct them in safety across the mountains. They 
traversed them more on foot than on horseback, and arrived 
at last, after many toils, at Our Lady of Serrance. Though 
the abbot was churlish enough, he durst not refuse to lodge 
them, for fear of disobliging the lord of Beam, by whom he 
knew they were held in consideration; but, like a true h)'po- 
crite as he was, he showed them the best possible counte- 
nance, and took them to see the lady Oisille and the gentle- 
man Simontault. All were equally delighted to find them- 
selves so miraculously reassembled, and the night was spent 
in praising God for the grace he had vouchsafed them. After 
taking a little rest, towards morning they went to hear mass, 
and receive the holy sacrament of union, by means of which 
all Christians are united as one, and to beg of God, who had 
reassembled them through his goodness, the grace to complete 
their journey for his glory. 

After dinner they sent to know if the waters were fallen, 
but finding, on the contrary, that they were still higher, and 
that it would be a long time before they could pass safely, 
they resolved to have a bridge made, abutting on two rocks 
very near each other, and on which there still are planks used 


by people on foot, who, coming from Oleron, wish to pass the 
Gave. The abbot, very well pleased at their incurring an 
expense which would increase the number of pilgrims, fur- 
nished them with workmen ; but he was so miserly that he 
would not contribute a farthing of his own. The workmen, 
however, having declared that it would take at least ten or 
twelve days to construct the bridge, the company began to 
grow tired. Parlamente, the wife of Hircan, always active 
and never melancholy, having asked her husband's permis- 
sion to speak, said to old dame Oisille, " I am surprised, 
madam, that you, who have so much experience that you fill 
the place of a mother to the rest of us women, do not devise 
some amusement to mitigate the annoyance we shall suffer 
from so long a delay ; for unless we have something agree- 
able and virtuous to occupy us, we are in danger of falling 

"What is still worse," said Longarine, the young widow, 
" we shall grow cross, which is an incurable malady ; the more 
so as there is not one of us but has cause to be extremely 
sad, considering our several losses." 

" Everyone has not lost her husband like you," said Enna- 
suite, laughing. " To have lost servants is not a matter to 
break one's heart, since they can easily be replaced. How- 
ever, I am decidedly of opinion that we should pass the time 
away as agreeably as we can." 

Nomerfide, her companion, said it was a very good idea, 
and that if she passed one day without amusement, she 
should be dead the next. The gentlemen all warmly approved 
of the proposal, and begged dame Oisille to direct what was 
to be done. 

" You ask a thing of me, my children," replied the old 
lady, " which I find very difficult. You want me to invent an 
amusement which shall dissipate your ennui. I have been in 
search of such a remedy all my life long, and I have never 
found but one, which is the reading of Holy Writ. It is in 
§uch reading that the mind finds its true and perfect joy 


whence proceed the repose and the health of the body. Tf 
you ask me what I do to be so cheerful and so healthy at 50 
advanced an age, it is that as soon as I rise I read the Holy 
Scriptures. I see and contemplate the will of God, who sent 
his Son on earth to announce to us that holy word and that 
good news which promises the pardon of all sins, and the 
payment of all debts, by the gift he has made us of his love, 
passion, and merits. This idea affords me such joy that I 
take my psalter, and sing with my heart and pronounce with 
my lips, as humbly as I can, the beautiful canticles with 
which the Holy Spirit inspired David and other sacred 
authors. The pleasure I derive from them is so ravishing 
that I regard as blessings the evils which befall me every 
day, because I have in my heart through faith Him who has 
suffered all these evils for me. Before supper, I retire in like 
manner to feed my soul with reading. In the evening I 
review all I have done in the day ; I ask pardon for my 
faults ; I thank God for his graces, and lie down in his love, 
fear, and peace, assured against all evils. This, my children, 
is what has long been my amusement, after having searched 
well, and found none more solid and more satisfying. It 
seems to me, then, that if you will give yourselves every 
morning for an hour to reading, and say your prayers devoutly 
during mass, you will find in this solitude all the charms 
which cities could afford. In fact, he who knows God finds 
all things fair in him, and without him everything ugly and 
disagreeable. Take my advice, therefore, I entreat you, if 
you wish to find happiness in life." 

" Those who have read the Holy Scriptures," said Hircan, 
"as I believe we have done, will confess, madam, that what 
you have said is true. But you must also consider that we 
are not yet so mortified but that we have need of some amuse- 
ment and corporeal pastime. When we are at home we have 
the chase and hawking, which make us forget a thousand bad 
thoughts ; the ladies have their household affairs, their needle- 
work, and sometimes dancing, wherein they find laudable 
exercise. I propose, then, on the part of the men, that you 



as the eldest lady, read to us in the morning the history ol 
the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the great and won- 
drous things he has done for us. After dinner until vespers 
we must choose some pastime which may be agreeable to the 
body and not prejudicial to the soul. By this means we shall 
pass the day cheerfully." 

Dame Oisille replied that she had so much difficulty in 
forgetting vanities, that she was afraid she should succeed ill 
in the choice of such a pastime ; also, that the matter should 
be referred to the majority of voices. "And you, monsieur," 
she said to Hircan, " shall give your opinion first." 

" If I thought," replied Hircan, " that the diversion I 
should like to propose would be as agreeable to a certain 
lady in this company as to myself, my choice would be soon 
announced ; but as I am afraid this would not be the case, I 
have nothing to say, but will submit to the decision of the 


His wife Parlamente colored up at these words, believing 
they were meant for her. " Perhaps, Hircan," she said, a 
little angrily and half-laughing, " the lady you think hardest 
to please could find means to content herself if she had a 
mind. But let us say no more of the pastime in which only 
two can take part, and think of one in which everybody can 

" Since my wife has so well comprehended my views," 
observed Hircan to the other ladies, "and a private diversion 
is not to her taste, I believe she is the best person to invent 
an amusement which will give satisfaction to us all. I 
declare, therefore, beforehand, that I assent to her proposal." 

The whole company spoke to the same effect, and Parla- 
mente, seeing that she was appointed mistress of the sports, 
thus addressed the company: "Were I conscious of possess- 
ing as much capacity as the ancients who invented the arts, 
I would contrive an amusement which should fulfil the obli- 
gation you lay upon me ; but as I know myself, and am aware 
that T find it difficult even to recollect the ingenious inven 


tions of others, I shall think myself lucky if I can closely fol 
low those who have already done what you desire. I believe 
there is not one of you but has read the novels of Boccaccio, 
recently translated into French, and which the most Christian 
King, Francis I. of that name, Monseigneur le Dauphin, 
Madame la Dauphine, and Madame Marguerite prized so 
highly, that if Boccaccio could hear them, the praises be- 
stowed on him by those illustrious persons would surely raise 
him from the dead. I can certify that the two ladies I have 
named, and several other personages of the court, resolved 
to imitate Boccaccio, except in one thing — namely, in writing 
nothing but what was true. Monseigneur and the two ladies 
arranged at first that they would each write ten tales, and 
that they would assemble a party of ten persons, selecting for 
it those whom they thought most capable of telling a stor\' 
with grace, and expressly excluding men of letters ; for 
Monseigneur did not wish that there should be any intrusion 
of art into the matter, and was afraid lest the flowers of 
rhetoric should be in some manner prejudicial to the truth o{ 
history. But the great affairs in which the king afterwards 
became involved, the peace concluded between the sovereign 
and the King of England, the accouchement of Madame la 
Dauphine, and several other affairs of a nature to occupy the 
whole court, caused this project to be forgotten ; but as we 
have time to spare we will put it into execution whilst waiting 
for the completion of our bridge. If you think proper, we 
will go from noon till four o'clock into that fine meadow 
along the Gave river, where the trees form so thick a screen 
that the sun cannot pierce it, or incommode us with its heat. 
There, seated at our ease, we will each relate what we have 
seen or been told by persons worthy of belief. Ten days will 
suffice to make up the hundred. If it please God that our 
work prove worthy of being seen by the lords and ladies I 
have named, we will present it to them on our return, in lieu 
of images and paternosters, and I am convinced that such an 
offering will not be displeasing to them. At the same time, 


if anyone can suggest something more agreeable, I am ready 
to fall in with his ideas." 

The whole company declared they could not imagine any- 
thing better, and everyone looked forward with impatience 
for the morrow. As soon as the morning broke they all went 
to the chamber of Madame Oisille, whom they found already 
at prayers. She read to them for a good hour, after which 
they heard mass, and at ten o'clock they went to dinner. 
Everyone then retired to his own chamber, and attended to 
what he had to do. At noon all were punctually assembled 
in the meadow, which was so beautiful and agreeable, that it 
would need a Boccaccio to depict all its charms : enough for 
us to say that there never was its like. 

The company being seated on the green turf, so soft and 
delicate that no one had need of floor or carpet, " Which of 
us," said Simontault, " shall have the command over the 
rest ? " 

" Since you have been the first to speak," said Hircan, 
*' it is right you should have the command ; for in sport all 
are equals." 

"God knows," replied Simontault, " I could desire noth- 
ing better in the world than to command such a company." 

Parlamente, who knew very well what that meant, began 
to cough, so that Hircan did not perceive she had changed 
color, and told Simontault to begin his tale, for all were 
ready to hear him. The same request being urged by the 
whole company, Simontault said, " I have been so ill-re- 
quited for my long services, ladies, that to revenge myself on 
love and on the fair one who treats me with so much cruelty, 
I am about to make a collection of misdeeds done by women 
to men, in the whole of which I will relate nothing but the 
simple truth." 





Woman of Alen^on having two lovers, one for her pleasnre and 
the other for her profit, caused that one of the twro to be slain 
who was the first to discover her gallantries — She obtained 
her pardon and that of her husband, who had fled the country, 
and who afterwards, in order to save some money, applied to 
a necromancer — The matter was found out and punished. 

In the lifetime of the last Duke Charles there was at 
Alengon a proctor named St. Aignan, who had married a 
gentlewoman of that country more handsome than vir- 
tuous, who, for her beauty and her levity, was much 
courted by the Bishop of Sees. In order to accomplish 
his ends, this prelate took care to amuse the husband so 
well, that not only he took no notice of the doings of 
either of the pair, but even forgot the attachment he had 
always felt towards his masters. He passed from fidelity 
to perfidy, and finally went the length of practising 
sorceries to cause the death of the duchess. The prel- 
ate maintained a long correspondence with this unlucky 
woman, who intrigued with him rather from motives of 
interest than of love ; whereto she was also solicited by 
her husband. But she entertained such a passion for 


the son of the Lieutenant-General of Alengon, named 
Du Mesnil, that it half crazed her ; and she often made 
the prelate give her husband some commission or an- 
other, that she might see the lieutenant-general's son at 
her ease. This affair lasted a long while, the prelate 
being entertained for her purse, and the other for her 
pleasure. She vowed to Du Mesnil that, if she received 
the bishop well, it was only that she might be the more 
free to continue her caresses to himself ; and that, what- 
ever she did, the bishop got nothing but words, and he 
might be assured nobody but himself should ever have 
anything else of her. 

One day, when her husband had to wait upon the 
bishop, she asked leave of him to go to the country, 
alleging that the air of the city did not agree with her. 
No sooner had she arrived at his farm than she wrote to 
the lieutenant's son, bidding him not fail to visit her 
about ten o'clock at night. The poor young man did so; 
but on his arrival the servant woman who usually let 
him in, met him and said, " Go elsewhere, my friend, for 
your place is filled." Du Mesnil, thinking that the 
husband had returned, asked the servant how all was 
going on. Seeing before her a handsome, well-bred 
young man, the girl could not help pitying him to think 
how much he loved, and how little he was loved in re- 
turn. With this feeling, she resolved to acquaint him 
with her mistress's behaviour, believing that it would 
cure him of loving her so much. She told him that the 
Bishop of S6es had but just entered the house, and was 
in bed with her mistress, who had not expected him till 
the following day ; but having detained the husband at 
his own residence, he had stolen away by night to visit 
her. The lieutenant's son was thunderstruck at this 
disclosure, and could hardly bring himself to believe it. 

Firttday\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 15 

To clear up his doubts, he secreted himself in a neigh 
bojring house, where he remained on sentry till three 
o'clock in the morning, when he saw the bishop come 
out, and recognized him perfectly in spite of his dis- 

The young man returned in despair to Alen9on, 
where his wicked mistress arrived soon after. Nevet 
doubting but that she should dupe him as usual, she 
lost no time in coming to see him, but he told her that 
since she had touched sacred things she was too holy to 
talk to a sinner like him, but a sinner so repentant that 
he hoped his sin would soon be forgiven. When she 
found she was discovered, and that excuses and promises 
never to offend in that way again were of no avail, she 
went off and complained to her bishop. After long pon- 
dering over the matter, she told her husband that she 
could no longer reside in Alengon because the lieuten- 
ant's son, whom he thought so much his friend, was 
incessantly importuning her, and she begged that in 
order to prevent all suspicion he would take a house at 
Arg-entan. The husband, who allowed himself to be led 
by her, easily consented. 

They had been but a few days settled in Argentan, 
when this wretched woman sent word to the lieutenant's 
son that he was the most wicked of men, and that she 
was not ignorant that he publicly maligned her and the 
prelate, but that she would yet find means to make him 
repent of this. The young man, who had never spoken 
to any one but herself, and who was afraid of involving 
himself in a quarrel with the prelate, mounted his horse 
and rode to Argentan, attended only by two of his ser- 
vants. He found the lady at the Jacobins, where she 
was hearing vespers, and having placed himself on his 
knees beside her, " I am come, Madam," he said, " to 


protest to you before God that I have never complained 
of you to any but yourself. You have behaved so vilely 
to me that what I have said to you is not half what you 
deserve. But if any man or woman says that I have 
publicly spoken ill of you, I am here to contradict them 
in your presence." 

The proctor's wife, seeing that there were many 
people in the church, and that he was accompanied by 
two stout men, constrained herself, and spoke to him as 
civilly as she could. She told him she did not doubt 
the truth of what he said ; that she believed him too up- 
right to .speak ill of anybody, and still less of her, who 
always loved him ; but as something had come to her 
husband's ears, she begged he would say before him that 
he had never spoken as had been said, and that he did 
not believe a word of such tales. To this he readily 
consented, and took her by the arm to conduct her home ; 
but she begged him not to do so, lest her husband 
should suppose that she had schooled him as to what he 
should say. Then taking one of his servants by the 
sleeve, she said, " Let this man come with me, and when 
it is time he shall bring you word. Meanwhile, you may 
remain quietly in your lodging." He, never dreaming 
of a conspiracy against him, made no objection to what 
she proposed. 

She gave the servant she took home with her his 
supper, and when the man frequently asked her when 
would it be time to go for his master, she always replied 
that he would come soon enough 

At night she privily sent off one of her own domes 
tics to fetch Du Mesnil, who, having no suspicion 
accompanied the man to St. Aignan's house, having 
with him only one of his servants, the other being with 
the mistress of the house. As he entered the door, his 

Leaning over the stair-head, she called out to her husband, 
"Well; is it done?" 

^■^,_.T-a> ii^s'Ss^^X'iA^i.vii''. 

First day.\ Q VEEN OE KAl 'A RKE. 1 7 

guide told him his mistress would be glad to say a few 
words to him before he spoke to her husband ; that she 
was waiting for him in a room with only one of his ser- 
vants, and that he had better send away the other by 
the front door. This he accordingly did ; and as he was 
going up a narrow and very dark flight of stairs, the 
proctor, who had set men in ambush, hearing a voice, 
called out to know what it was. Some one replied it was 
a man who was making his way secretly into the house. 
Upon this, one Thomas Guerin, an assassin by profes- 
sion, and hired by the proctor for the occasion, fell upon 
the poor young man, and gave him so many sword- 
wounds that at last he fell dead. Meanwhile, his servant, 
who was with the lady, said to her, " I hear my master's 
voice on the stairs. I will go to him." But she stopped 
him, saying, " Don't trouble yourself ; he will come soon 
enough." Soon afterwards, hearing his master cry out, 
" I am a dead man ! My God have mercy on me ! " he 
wanted to go to his aid, but again she stopped him. 
" Be quiet," she said ; " my husband is chastising him 
for his pranks. Let's go see." Leaning over the stair- 
head, she called out to herhusband, "Well ! is it done .-• " 
" Come and see," replied the husband ; " you are avenged 
on him who put you to such shame." And so saying, 
he struck his dagger tenor twelve times into the stomach 
of a man whom when living he dare not have assailed. 

After the deed was done, and the two servants of the 
murdered man had fled with the sad tidings to his poor 
father, St. Aignan began to consider what steps he 
should next take. The servants of the murdered man 
could not be admitted to give evidence, and no one else 
had seen the deed besides the murderers, an old woman- 
servant, and a girl of fifteen. He endeavoured to secure 

the old woman ; but she found means of escape, and took 



refuge in the Jacobins. Her testimony was the best 
that was had respecting this crime. The young chamber- 
maid remained some days in St. Aignan's house ; but 
contriving to have her suborned by one of the assassins, 
he had her taken to Paris, and placed in a house of ill- 
fame, in order to hinder her from being believed as a 
witness. That nothing else might remain to prove his 
guilt, he burned the body ; and the bones which the fire 
could not consume he had mixed with mortar, for he was 
then building. All this being done, he sent to the court 
to sue for his pardon, and set forth that having ascer 
tained that the deceased was endeavouring to dishonour 
his wife, he had often forbid him his house ; that he had 
come notwithstanding by night, under suspicious circum- 
stances, to speak with her, and that having found him at 
the door of his wife's chamber, he had killed him more 
in the heat of anger than deliberately. But in spite of 
his haste, before he had despatched his letter, the duke 
and duchess learned the whole truth, which they had 
from the father of the unfortunate young man, and made 
it known to the chancellor in order to hinder St. Aig-nan 
from obtaining his pardon. Seeing this, the wretch fled 
to England with his wife and several of her relations. 
Before his departure, he told the assassin he had em- 
ployed that he had express orders from the king to arrest 
him a«nd have him put to death ; but that, in considera- 
tion of the service he had rendered him, he would save 
his life. He gave him ten crowns to quit the realm, and 
the man has never been heard of since. The murder, 
however, was so well verified by the servants of the de- 
ceased, by the old woman who had fled to the Jacobins, 
and by the bones which were found in the mortar, 
that the criminal process was completed in the absence 
of St. Aignan and his wife, who were condemned to 

Pirstday.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRR. ig 

death as contumacious, to pay their victim's father 
fifteen hundred crowns for the cost of the process, and 
to have the rest of their property confiscated to the 

St. Aignan being in England, and finding himself 
condemned to death in France, so managed by his ser- 
vices to gain the goodwill of several great lords, and set 
his wife's relations to work to such purpose, that the 
King of England entreated the King of France to par- 
don him and to restore him to his possessions and his 
honours. The king having been informed of the atrocity 
of this affair, sent the details of the process to the King 
of England, and begged him to consider if the crime 
was one which could be pardoned ; adding, that through- 
out his realm none but the Duke of Alengon alone had 
the privilege of granting grace in his duchy. The King 
of England did not yield to these representations, but 
so urgently solicited St. Aignan's pardon that at last he 
obtained it. 

On his return home, to fill up the measure of his 
wickedness, the proctor made acquaintance with a sor- 
cerer named Gallery, hoping to be put by him in a way 
to escape payment of the fifteen hundred crowns due 
by him to his victim's father. To this end, he and his 
wife went in disguise to Paris; but the wife, seeing how 
he often shut himself up for a long time with Gallery 
without saying a word to her, watched them one morn- 
ing, and saw Gallery set before her husband five wooden 
images, three of which had their hands hanging down, 
and two had them raised. " We must have waxen images 
made like them," said Gallery to St. Aignan ; " those 
which shall have their arms hanging down will be for 
the persons we shall cause to die ; and those with raised 
arras will be for the persons whose goodwill we seek." 


"Very well," said the proctor. "This one, then 
.shall be for the king, by whom I would be favoured, 
and this one for Monsieur Brinon, Chancellor of Alen 

" The images," said Gallery, " must be put under the 
altar, where they will hear mass, with certain words 
which I will teach you at the proper time." 

The proctor coming then to the images with pendent 
arms, said that one was for Maitre Gilles du Mesnil, 
father of the deceased, for he knew well that, as long as 
the old man lived, he would not cease to pursue the 
murderer of his son. One of the female figures with 
pendent arms was for my lady the Duchess of Alen^on, 
the kinsf's sister, because she was so fond of her old ser- 
vant Du Mesnil, and had on so many occasions known 
the wickedness of the proctor, that unless she died he 
could not live. The second female figure of the same 
sort was for his wife, who, he said, was the cause of all 
his misfortunes, and who, he well knew, would never 
amend. His wife, who was peeping through the key- 
hole, and found herself on the list of victims, thought it 
high time to anticipate him. She had an uncle, named 
Neaufle, who was referendary to the Duke of Alen^on, 
and going to him under the pretence of borrowing 
money, she related to him all she had seen and heard. 
The uncle, a good old servant of the duke's, went to the 
Chancellor of Alengon, and communicated to him what 
he had learnt from his niece. As the duke and duchess 
were not that day at court, the chancellor waited on 
Madame la R^gente, the mother of the king and the 
duchess, who, as soon as she was informed of the mat- 
ter, set La Barre, the Provost of Paris, to work at once. 
The provost did his duty so promptly and so well, that 
the proctor and the necromancer were both arrested 

First day.\ Q VEEN OF NA VARRE. 2 1 

Neither torture nor constraint was required to make 
them avow their guilt, and on their own confession, 
judgment was completed and laid before the king. 
Some persons, who wished to save the lives of the cul- 
prits, represented to the king that they had no other 
intention in performing their enchantments than to se- 
cure his good graces ; but the king, to whom his sister's 
life was as dear as his own, commanded that they should 
be sentenced just as thougli they had been guilty against 
his own person. His sister, the Duchess of Alen^on, 
nevertheless entreated the king to spare the proctor's 
life, and condemn him to a severe corporal punishment. 
Her request was granted, and St. Aignan and Gallery 
were sent to Saint Blancart's galleys at Marseilles, where 
they ended their days, and had leisure to reflect on the 
atrocity of their crimes. The proctor's wicked wife, 
after the loss of her husband, conducted herself worse 
than ever, and died miserably.* 

Consider, ladies, I beseech you, what disorders a 
wicked woman occasions, and how many evils ensue 
from the sin of the one you have just heard of. Since 
Eve made Adam sin, it has been the business of women 
to torment, kill, and damn men. For my part, I have 
had so much experience of their cruelty, that I shall lay 
my death to nothing but the despair into which one of 

* The events related in this novel, and the names of the per- 
sons, are all real. The last editors of the Heptameron (la Socidt^ 
des Bibliophiles Frangais, 1853) have published the writ of pardon 
granted by Francis I. to St. Aignan, the original of which is pre- 
served in the Archives Nationales. The writ, as usual, recites the 
statement of the case made by the petitioner for pardon, and this 
agrees closely with the Queen of Navarre's narrative, allowance, 
of course, being made for the peculiar colouring which it was the 
murderer's interest to give to the facts. 


them has plunged me. And yet I am crazed enough to 
confess this hell is more agreeable to me, coming from 
her hand, than the paradise which another might be- 
stow upon me. 

Parlamente, affecting not to understand that it was 
of herself he spoke, replied, " If hell is as agreeable as 
you say, you can't be afraid of the devil who put you 
into it." 

" If my devil," replied Simontault in a pet, " were to 
become as black as it has been cruel to me, it would 
cause this company as much fright as I feel pleasure in 
looking upon it. But the fire of love makes me forget 
the fire of that hell. So I will say no more about it, 
but call upon Madame Oisille, being assured that if she 
would speak of women as she knows them, she would 
corroborate my opinion." 

The whole company turned to the old lady and 
begged her to begin, which she did with a smile, and 
with this little preamble : " It seems to me, ladies, that 
the last speaker has cast such a slur upon our sex by the 
true story he has narrated of a wretched woman, that I 
must run back through all the past years of my life in 
order to call to my mind one woman whose virtue was 
such as to belie the bad opinion he has of our sex. 
Happily I recollect one such woman, who deserves not 
to be forgotten, and will now relate her story to you." 


Chaste and lamentable death of the wife of one of the Queen oj 

Navarre's muleteers. 

At Amboise there once lived a muleteer, who was 
in the service of the Queen of Navarre, sister of Francis 

Ftrst dny.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 23 

I. This princess being at Bois, where she was delivered 
of a son, the muleteer went thither to receive his quar- 
terly payment, and left his wife at Amboise, where they 
lived, in a house beyond the bridges. There lived with 
them for a long time one of the muleteer's men, who 
had felt such a passion for her that at last he could not 
help declaring it ; but she, being a virtuous woman, re- 
proved him so sharply, threatening to have him beaten 
and dismissed by her husband, that he never afterwards 
durst address her with such language. Nevertheless, 
the fire of his love, though smothered, was not extin- 
guished. His master then being at Blois, and his mis- 
tress at vespers at St. Florentin, which is the church of 
the castle, very remote from the muleteer's house, in 
which he was left alone, he resolved to have by force 
what he could not obtain either by prayers or services. 
To this end he broke an opening through the boarded 
partition between his mistress's chamber and that in 
which he himself slept. This was not perceived, being 
covered by the curtains of the master's bed on one side, 
and by those of the men's bed on the other. 

When the poor woman had gone to bed with a little 
girl of twelve years old, and was sleeping soundly, as 
one usually does in the first sleep, the man entered the 
room through the opening, in his shirt, with his sword 
in his hand, and got into the bed with her. The moment 
she felt him she sprang out of bed, and addressed such 
remonstrances to him as would occur to any woman of 
honour in the like case. He, whose love was but brutal- 
ity, and who would better have understood the language 
of his mules than such virtuous pleadings, appeared more 
insensible to reason than the brutes with which he had 
long associated. Seeing that she ran so fast round a 
table that he could not catch her, and that, although iie 


had twice laid hands on her, she had strength enough 
both times to break from his grasp, he despaired of ever 
taking her ahve, and stabbed her in the loins, to see if 
pain would make her yield what fear and force had failed 
to extort from her. But it was quite the reverse ; for as 
a brave soldier when he sees his own blood is the hotter 
to revenge himself on his enemies and acquire honour, 
so, her chaste heart gathering new strength, she ran 
faster than ever, to escape falling into the hands of that 
wretch, at the same time remonstrating with him in the 
best way she could, thinking by that means to make him 
conscious of his fault. But he was in such a frenzy that 
he was incapable of profiting by good advice. In spite 
of the speed with which she ran as long as her strength 
lasted, she received several more wounds, till at length, 
weakened by loss of blood, and feeling the approach of 
death, she raised her eyes and her clasped hands to 
heaven, and gave thanks to God, whom she called her 
strength, her virtue, her patience, and her chastity, be- 
seeching him to accept the blood which, according to 
his commandment, was shed through respect for that of 
his son, wherein she was thoroughly assured that all sins 
are washed out, and effaced from the memory of his 
wrath. Then exclaiming " Lord, receive my soul which 
thy goodness has redeemed," she fell on her face, and re- 
ceived several more wounds from the villain, who, after 
she had lost the power of speech and motion, satisfied 
his lust, and fled with such speed that, in spite of all 
efforts to track him, he was never heard of afterwards. 
The little girl who had been in bed with the poor 
woman had hid herself beneath it in her fright; but as 
soon as she saw that the man was gone, she went to her 
mistress, and finding her speechless and motionless, she 
called out through the window to the neighbours for help 

Ftfstcfay.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. ' 2% 

Esteeming and liking the muleteer's wife as much as 
any woman in the town, they all hurried at once to her 
aid, and brought with them surgeons, who found that she 
had received twenty-five mortal wounds. They did all 
they could for her, but she was past saving. She lin- 
gered, however, for an hour, making signs with her eyes 
and hands, and showing thereby that she had not lost 
consciousness. A priest having asked her in what faith 
she died, she replied, by signs as unequivocal as speech, 
that she put her trust in the death of Jesus Christ, whom 
she hoped to see in his heavenly glory. And so, with a 
serene countenance and eyes uplifted to heaven, she 
surrendered her chaste body to the earth, and her soul 
to her Creator. 

Her husband arrived just as they were about to carry 
her to the grave, and was shocked to see his wife dead 
before he had heard any news of her ; but double cause 
he had to grieve when he was told how she had died ; 
and so poignant was his sorrow that it had like to cost 
him his life. The martyr of chastity was buried in the 
church of St. Florentin, being attended to the grave by 
all the virtuous women of the place, who did all possible 
honour to her memory, deeming it a happiness to be the 
townswomen of one so virtuous. Those, too, who had 
led bad lives, seeing the honours paid to the deceased, 
amended their ways, and resolved to live better for the 
time to come.* 

There, ladies, you have a true tale, and one which 
may well incite to chastity, which is so fine a virtue. 
Ought we not to die of shame, we who are of good birth, 
to feel our hearts full of the love of the world, since, to 

* The tragedy here related is thought to have occurred after 
August, 1530, when Margaret was delivered of a son named Jean, 
vvho lived only two months. 


avoid it, a poor muleteer's wife did not fear so cruel & 
death ? Therefore we must humble ourselves, for God 
does not bestow his graces on men because they are 
noble or rich ; but, according as it pleases his goodness, 
which regards not the appearance of persons. He chooses 
whom He will. He honours with his virtues, and finally 
crowns with his glor}^ those whom He has elected ; and 
ofien He chooses low and despised things to confound 
those which the world esteems high and honourable. Let 
us not rejoice in our virtues, as Jesus Christ says, but 
let us rejoice for that we are enrolled in the Book of 

The ladies were so touched by the sad and glorious 
death of the muleteer's wife, that there was not one of 
them but shed tears, and promised herself that she would 
strive to follow such rn example should fortune expose 
her to a similar trial. At last, Madame Oisille, seeing 
they were losing time in praising the dead woman, said 
to Saffredent, " If you do not say something to make the 
company laugh, no one will forgive me for the fault I have 
committed in making them weep." Saffredent, who was 
really desirous to say something good and agreeable to 
the company, and especially to one of the ladies, replied 
that this honour was not due to him, and that there were 
others who were older and more capable than himself 
who ought to speak before him. "But since you will 
have it so," he said, "the best thing I can do is to de- 
spatch the matter at once, for the more good speakers 
precede me, the more difficult will my task be when my 
turn comes." 

First day.] QUEEN OF NA VARKE. 


A. King of Naples, having debauched the wife of a gentleman, at 
last wears horns himself. 

As I have often wished I had shared the good for- 
tune of one about whom I am going to tell you a tale, I 
must inform you that in the time of King Alfonso, the 
sceptre of whose realm was lasciviousness, there was at 
Naples a handsome, agreeable gentleman, in whom nature 
and education had combined so many perfections, that 
an old gentleman gave him his daughter, who for beauty 
and engaging qualities was in no respects inferior to her 
husband. Great was their mutual love during the first 
months of their marriage ; but the carnival being come, 
and the king going masked into the houses, where every- 
one did his best to receive him well, he came to this 
gentleman's, where he met with a better reception than 
anywhere else. Confections, music, concerts, and other 
amusements were not forgotten ; but what pleased the 
king most was the wife, the finest woman, to his think- 
ing, he had ever seen. After the repast she sang with 
her husband, and that so pleasingly that she seemed 
more beautiful. The king, seeing so many perfections 
in one person, took much less pleasure in the sweet har- 
mony of the husband and wife than in thinking how he 
might break it. Their mutual affection appeared to him 
a great obstacle to his design ; therefore he concealed 
his passion as well as he could ; but to solace it in some 
manner he frequently entertained the lords and ladies of 
Naples, and did not forget the husband and his wife. 


As one readily believes what one desires, the king 
thought that the lady's eyes promised him something 
agreeable, if only those of the husband were not in the 
way. To put his conjecture to the proof, he sent the 
husband to Rome with a commission which would occupy 
him a fortnight or three weeks. When he was gone, 
his wife, who never before had lost sight of him, so to 
speak, was in the deepest affliction. The king went to 
see her frequently, and did his best to console her by 
obliging words and presents. In a word, he played "his 
part so well that she was not only consoled, but even 
very well pleased with her husband's absence. Before 
the end of three weeks she was so much in love with 
the king that she was quite as distressed at her husband's 
return as she had been at his departure. That she 
might not be deprived of the king's presence, it was 
settled between them that whenever the husband went 
to the country she should give notice to the king, who 
then might come to see her in perfect security, and so 
secretly that her honour, which she respected more than 
her conscience, should not be hurt ; a hope which the 
fair lady dwelt on with great pleasure. 

The husband, on his return, was so well received by 
his wife, that even had he been told that the king fondled 
her during his absence, he never could have believed it. 
But in course of time this fire, which such pains were 
taken to conceal, began gradually to make itself visible, 
and became at last so glaring that the husband, justly 
alarmed, set him to observe, and with such effect that he 
had scared} any room left for doubt. But as he was 
afraid that he who wronged him would do him a still worse 
mischief if he made any noise about the matter, he re- 
solved to dissemble, thinking it better to live with grief 
at his heart, than to expose his life for a woman who did 

First day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 29 

not love him. Nevertheless, he longed, in the bitterness 
of his resentment, to retaliate on the king, if it were pos- 
sible ; and as he knew that spite will make a woman do 
more than love, especially such as are of a great and 
honourable spirit, he took the liberty one day to say to the 
queen how grieved he was that the king her husband 
treated her with indifference. The queen, who had heard 
of the king's amour with his wife, replied that she could 
not have honour and pleasure both together. " I know 
well," she added, "that I have the honour whereof another 
receives the pleasure ; but then she who has the pleasure 
has not the same honour as is mine." 

Well knowing to whom these words applied, the gen- 
tleman responded, " Honour is born with you, madam. 
You are of so good a lineage that the rank of queen or 
empress could add nothing to your nobility ; but your 
beauty, your graces, and your winning deportment merit 
so much pleasure, that she who robs you of that which is 
your due does more harm to herself than to you, since for 
a glory which turns to shame she loses as much pleasui'e 
as you or any woman in the kingdom could enjoy. And 
I can tell you, madam, that the king, the crown apart, is not 
more capable than I of contenting a woman. Far from 
it, I am certain that to satisfy a woman of your merit the 
king ought to wish that he was of my temperament." 

•' Though the king is of a more delicate complexion 
than you," replied the queen, laughing, "the love he has 
for me gratifies me so much that I prefer it to any other 

" If that be so, madam," returned the gentleman, " I 
no longer pity you. I know that if the king had for you 
a love as pure as that you have for him, you would literally 
enjoy the gratification you speak of ; but God has deter- 
mined that it should be otherwise, in order that, not find- 


ing in him what you desire, you should not n^ake him 
your god on earth *' 

" I own to you," said the queen, " that the love I have 
for him is so great that no heart can love with such 
passion as mine." 

" Allow me, if you please, to tell you, madam, that 
you have not fathomed the love in every heart. I dare 
assure you, madam, that there is one who loves you with 
a love so perfect and impassioned that what you feel for 
the king cannot be compared with it. His love grows 
stronger as that of the king grows weaker, and it only 
rests with yourself, madam, if you think proper, to be 
more than compensated for all you lose." 

By this time the queen began to perceive, both from 
the gentleman's words and his manner, that his tongue 
was the interpreter of his heart. She now recollected 
that for a long tim.e past he had been seeking opportuni- 
ties to do her service, and seeking them with such eager- 
ness that he had become quite melancholy. At first she 
had supposed that his wife was the cause of his sadness ; 
but now she made no doubt that it was all on her own 
account. As love never fails to make itself felt when it 
is real, the queen had no dif^culty in unriddling what 
was a secret for everyone else. The gentleman, therefore, 
appearing to her more amiable than her husband, con- 
sidering, besides, that he was forsaken by his wife, as 
she was by her husband, and animated with resentment 
and jealousy against her husband, " My God ! " she 
exclaimed with a sigh, and with tears in her eyes, " must 
it be that vengeance shall effect upon me what love has 
never been able to effect .-'" 

" Vengeance is sweet, madam," observed the now 
hopeful suitor, " when, instead of killing one's enemy, 
one bestows life on a real friend. It is high time, me- 

First Jay.] Q UEEN OF NA VA RKE. 3 , 

thinks, that the truth should cure you of an unreasonable 
love you entertain for a person who has none for you , 
and that a just and well-founded love should expel the 
fear which is very ill-lodged in a heart so great and so 
virtuous as yours. Let us put out of consideration, 
madam, your royal quality, and let us contemplate the 
fact that you and I, of all persons in the world, are the 
two who are most basely duped and betrayed by those 
whom we have most perfectly loved. Let us avenge 
ourselves, madam, not so much for the sake of retalia- 
tion as for the satisfaction of love, which on my side is 
such that I could not bear more and live. If your heart 
is not harder than adamant, you must feel some spark 
of that fire which augments in proportion as I labour to 
conceal it, and if pity for me, who am dying of love for 
you, does not incite you to love me, at least you should 
do so out of resentment. Your merit is so great that it 
is worthy of the love of every honest heart ; yet you are 
despised and abandoned by him for whom you have 
abandoned all others." 

These words caused the queen such violent transports 
that, in order to conceal the commotion of her spirits, 
she took the gentleman's arm, and went with him into a 
garden adjoining her chamber, where she walked up and 
down a long while without being able to speak a single 
word to him. But the gentleman, seeing her half-con- 
quered, no sooner reached the end of an alley where no 
one could see them, than he plied her to good purpose 
with his long-concealed passion. Being both of one 
mind, they revenged themselves together ; and it was 
arranged between them that whenever the king went to 
visit the gentleman's wife, the gentleman should visit the 
queen. Thus, the cheaters being cheated, four would 
share the pleasure which two imagined they had all to 

32 THE HEPl'AMERON OF THE ^No^'el % 

themselves. When all was over, the queen retired to her 
chamber, and the gentleman went home, both of them 
so well contented that they thought no more of their past 
vexations. The gentleman, far from dreading lest the 
king should visit his wife, on the contrary desired nothing 
better ; and to afford him opportunity for doing so, he 
went to the country oftener than he had been used. 
When the king knew that the gentleman was at his 
village, which was but half a league from the city, he 
went at once to the fair lady ; whilst the gentleman re- 
paired by night to the queen's chamber, where he did 
duty as the king's lieutenant so secretly that no one 
perceived it. 

Things went on in this way for a long while ; but 
whatever pains the king took to conceal his amour, all 
the world was aware of it. The gentleman was much 
pitied by all good-natured people, and ridiculed by the 
ill-natured, who used to make horns at him behind his 
back. He knew very well that they did so, and he 
laughed in his sleeve, for he thought his horns were as 
good as the king's crown. One day, when the royal 
gallant was at the gentleman's, casting his eyes on a pair 
of antlers hung up in the hall, he could not help saying, 
with a laugh, in the presence of the master of the house 
himself, "These antlers very well become this place." 
The gentleman, who had as much spirit as the king, had 
this inscription put up beneath the antlers after the king 
was gone: 

lo porto le corna, ciascun lo vede; 
Ma tal le porta, chi no lo crede. 

I wear the horns as all men know ; 
He wears them too who thinks not so. 

On his next visit the king observed this inscription, and 

First day\ QUEEN OF NA VA KRE. 33 

asked the meaning of it. "If the stag," replied the 
gentleman, "does not know the king's secret, it is not 
just that the king should know the stag's secret. Be 
satisfied with knowing, sire, that it is not everyone who 
wears horns, who has his cap lifted off by them ; some 
horns are so soft that a man may wear them without 
knowing it." 

It was plain to the king from this reply that the 
gentleman knew something of his own affair, but he 
never suspected either him or the queen. That princess 
played her part extremely well ; for the more pleased she 
was with her husband's conduct, the more she pretended 
to be dissatisfied. So they lived as good friends on both 
sides until old age put an end to their mutual pleasures. 
This, ladies, is a story which I have great pleasure in 
proposing to you by way of example, to the end that 
when your husbands give you horns you may do the same 
by them.* 

" I am very well assured, Saffredent," said Ennasuite, 
laughing, "that if you were as much in love as you have 
formerly been, you would endure horns as big as oaks 
for the sake of bestowing a pair as you pleased ; but now 
that your hair is beginning to turn grey, it is time to 
put a truce to your desires." 

* The king who figures in this novel, it is thought, is Alfonso 
v., King of Aragon and Sicily, who supplanted King Rend on the 
throne of Naples in 1443, and remained in possession of it until his 
death in 1458. He married, in 141 5, Maria, daughter of Henry 
III., King of Castile, and lived on very bad terms with that prin- 
cess, who, according to the authors of VArt de verifier les DateSy 
never set foot in Italy. Queen Mary, who was married in 1415, 
must have been long past her bloom in 1443. For this reason the 
Bibliophiles Fran^ais are inclined to believe that the Queen of 
Navarre has here related, under borrowed names, a true story ot 
her own times. 



"Though she whom I love, mademoiselle, allows me 
no hope," replied Saffredent, " and age has exhausted 
my vigour, my desires remain still in full force. But 
since you reproach me with so seemly a passion, you 
will, if you please, relate to us the fourth novel ; and we 
shall see if you can find some example which may refute 


One of the ladies present, who knew that she who 
had taken Saffredent's words to herself was not the per- 
son he loved so much as to be willing to wear horns of 
her making, could not help laughing at the manner in 
which she had taken them up. Saffredent, who per- 
ceived that the laughing lady had guessed right, was 
very glad of it, and let Ennasuite talk on. " To prove, 
ladies," she said, " to Saffredent and all the company 
that all women are not like the queen of whom he has 
told us, and that the audacious are not always successful, 
I will relate to you the adventure of a lady who deemed 
that the vexation of falling in love was harder to bear 
than death itself. I shall not name the persons, because 
the story is so recent that I should be afraid of offend- 
ing some of the near relations if I did so." 


Presumptuous attempt of a gentleman upon a Princess of Flanders, 
and the shame it brought upon him. 

There was in Flanders a lady of such family that 
there was none better in the country. She was a widow, 
had been twice married, but had no children living. 
During her second widowhooil she resided with her 
brother, who loved her much, and who was a very great 

First day.'l QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 35 

lord, being married to one of the king's daughters. This 
young prince was much addicted to pleasure, and was 
fond of the chase, amusements, and the ladies, as usual 
with young people. He had a very ill-tempered wife, 
who was by no means well pleased with her husband's 
diversions ; wherefore, as his sister was the most lively 
and cheerful companion possible, she accompanied the 
prince to every place to which he took his wife. There 
was at the prince's court a gentleman who surpassed all 
the others in height, figure, and good looks, and who, 
seeing that his master's sister was a lively lady, and fond 
of laughing, thought he would try if a well-bred lover 
would be to her taste. But the result was quite con- 
trary to what he had expected ; although she pardoned 
his audacity in consideration of his good looks and good 
breeding, and even let him know that she was not angry 
that he had spoken to her, only she desired that she 
might never hear the same language from him again. 
He promised this, that he might not lose the honour 
and pleasure of her society, but as his passion increased 
with time^ he forgot his promise. He did not, however, 
have recourse to words, for experience had taught him 
that she knew how to make chaste replies ; but he 
flattered himself that being a widow, young, vigorous, 
and good-humoured, she would, perhaps, take pity on 
him and on herself if he could find her in a convenient 

To this end he acquainted the prince that he had a 
house admirably situated for the chase, and that if he would 
come thither and hunt three or four stags in the month of 
May, he would have excellent sport. The prince promised 
he would do so, and he kept his word. He found a 
handsome house prepared for his reception, in the 
best order, as belonging to the richest nobleman in the 


country. Its owner lodged her whom he loved better 
than himself in an apartment opposite to that which 
he assigned to the prince and princess. Her bedroom 
was so well tapestried above, and so well matted below, 
that it was impossible to perceive a trap-door he had con- 
trived in the alcove, and which led down into the room 
occupied by his aged and infirm mother. As the good 
old lady coughed a great deal, and was afraid of disturb- 
ing the princess, she exchanged bedrooms with her 
son. Not an evening passed that the old lady did not 
carry confections to the princess, on which occasions her 
son failed not to accompany her ; and as he was much 
liked by the brother, he was allowed to be present at the 
sister's coucher and lever, when he always found cause 
for the increase of his passion. 

One night he stayed so late with the princess that, 
seeing she was falling asleep, he was obliged to leave 
her and return to his own chamber. He took the hand- 
somest and best perfumed shirt he had, and a nightcap 
of the choicest kind ; then, looking at himself in the 
glass, he was so satisfied with his own appearance that 
he thought no lady could possibly withstand his good 
looks. Promising himself marvels therefore from his en- 
terprise, he lay down on his bed, where he did not think 
he should stay long, for he expected to exchange it for 
one more honourable. 

No sooner had he dismissed his attendants than he 
rose and locked the door, and listened for a long time to 
hear whether there was any noise in the princess's cham- 
ber, which, as already said, was above his own. When 
he had satisfied himself that all was quiet, he began to 
put his fine project in execution, and gradually let down 
the trap-door, which was so well made and so well cov- 
ered with cloth that it did not make the least noise 

First day. ] Q UEEN OF NA VARRE , ^ 

Then stealing up into the alcove where the princess was 
fast asleep, he got into bed to her without ceremony, re- 
gardless of her high birth and the obligations he was 
under to her, and without having in the first instance ob- 
tained her consent. The first intimation she had of his 
arrival was to find herself in his arms ; but being- astrons: 
woman she broke loose from his grasp, and, demanding 
who he was, made such good use of her hands and nails 
that he tried to stuff the quilt into her mouth for fear 
she should cry out. But he never could accomplish his 
purpose, for as she found that he was doing his best 
to dishonour her, she did her best to defend herself, and 
called out to her lady of honour, an aged and very pru- 
dent woman, who slept in the same room, and she has- 
tened in her shift to her mistress's aid. 

The gentleman, finding he was discovered, was so 
much afraid of being recognized that he hurried away 
through his trap-door as fast as he could, no less over- 
come at the plight in which he returned from his enter- 
prise than he had been keen-set and confident when he 
entered upon it. The candle was still burning on the 
table before his mirror, which showed his face all 
scratched and bitten, and the blood streaming from it 
over his fine shirt. " Thou art rightly served, per- 
nicious beauty ! " he said, apostrophising his own lacer- 
ated visage. " Thy vain promises set upon an impossi- 
ble enterprise, and one which, far from increasing my 
good fortune, will, perhaps, bring upon me a world of 
trouble. What will become of me if she knows that I 
have committed this folly in violation of my promise .'' 
The least that can happen to me will be to be banished 
from her presence. Why did I employ fraud to steal 
what my birth and my good looks might have obtained 
for me by lawful ways } Could I expect to make myself 


master of her heart by violence ? Ought I not have 
waited till love put me in possession of it in recompense 
for my patience and my long service ? For without 
love all the merits and power of man are nothing." 

The rest of the night was spent by the discomfited 
gallant in such reflections as these, mingled with tears^ 
groans, and wailings indescribable. In the morning he 
feigned illness, to conceal the mangled state of his coun- 
tenance, pretending all the while the company remained 
in the house that he could not endure the light. The 
lady, who was convinced that there was no one at the 
court capable of so audacious an act except the man who 
had the boldness to declare his love to her, searched the 
chamber with the lady of honour; but not finding a pas- 
sage through which anyone could have entered, she 
broke into a towering passion. " Be assured," she said 
to the lady of honour, " that the lord of this mansion is 
the man, and that I will make such a report to-morrow 
morning to my brother that the culprit's head shall bear 
witness to my chastity." 

"I am delighted, madam," said her wary attendant, 
who saw what a transport of rage she was in — " I am 
delighted that honour is so precious in your eyes that, 
for its sake, you would not spare the life of a man who 
has put it in jeopardy through excess of love. But in 
this, as in every other matter, one may fall backwards 
when thinking to advance. Therefore, tell me, madam, 
the plain truth. Has he had anything of you .'' " 

" Nothing, I do assure you," replied the princess, 
'' besides scratches and cuffs ; and unless he has found a 
very clever surgeon, I am sure he will show the marks 
cf them to-morrow." 

" That being the case, madam, it strikes me you 
ought rather to praise God than think of vengeance 

First day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 3g 

Since he has had the heart to make such an attempt, the 
vexation of having failed in it will be more poignant 
than even death itself. If you would be avenged on him, 
leave him to his love and to his shame, which will make 
him suffer more than anything you can do. Do not fall, 
madam, into tlie blunder he has committed. He prom- 
ised himself the sweetest of all pleasures, and he has 
brought upon himself the most miserable torment. 
Profit by his example, madam, and do not diminish your 
glory in thinking to augment it. If you complain of the 
adventure, you will publish what is known to nobody ; 
for you may be sure that on his part it will remain an 
everlasting secret. Suppose even my lord your brother 
does you the justice you demand, and that it costs the 
poor gentleman his life, people will say that he has had 
his will of you ; and most people will find it hard to be- 
lieve that he would have made such an attempt if you had 
not given him encouragement. You are handsome, 
young, and lively. All the court knows that you are 
graciously familiar with the gentleman you suspect ; and 
so everyone will conclude that he only made this attempt 
because it was your wish that he should do so. Your 
honour, which has hitherto sustained no blemish, will be- 
come at least questionable wherever this story is told." 
The princess yielded to the force of these judicious 
representations, and asked the lady of honour what she 
should do. " Since you are pleased to receive my coun- 
sel, madam," replied the lady, " seeing the affection from 
which it proceeds, I must say that, in my opinion, you 
ought to be heartily rejoiced that the handsomest and 
best-bred man I know has neither by fair means nor by 
foul been able to make you swerve from the path of vir- 
tue. For this, madam, you should feel bound to humble 
yourself before God, and acknowledge that it is His work 


and not your own. Many a woman, indeed, has main- 
tained a more imposing air of gravity than you, who yet 
has yielded to a man less worth loving than this gentle- 
man. You ought to be more on your guard than ever 
against everything in the shape of soft speeches, and be- 
think you that many have resisted a first attack who have 
yielded to a second. Remember, madam, that Love 
is blind, and that he makes people blind, so that they 
think they have nothing to fear when they are most 
in danger. It is my opinion, then, madam, that you 
ought not to tell anyone W'hat has occurred to you, 
and that even if he. should think of speaking to you on 
the subject, you should affect not to understand him. 
Thereby, you will avoid two bad things: one is vain- 
glory for the victory you have achieved ; the other, the 
pleasure you might take in remembering things so 
agreeable to the flesh ; for the chastest of our sex can 
hardly prevent themselves, strive as they will, from feel- 
ing something of the sort. Furthermore, madam, that 
he may not believe that what he has done accords in any 
way with your inclinations, I advise you to make him 
feel his folly by gradually withdrawing something of 
that friendly countenance you have been used to show 
him. He will also feel at the same time that you mani- 
fest great goodness of heart in contenting yourself with 
your victory and renouncing vengeance. God grant you 
the grace, madam, to persist in the virtue w^th which he 
has endowed you, and to love and serve him better than 
you have hitherto done, knowing that he is the source of 
all good things." 

The princess followed her lady of honour's sage coun- 
sels, and slept calmly through the rest of the night, 
whilst the gentleman lay awake in bitter anfjuish of 
spirit. Next day, the prince, being about to take his de- 

First day.\ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE, 4 1 

parture, asked after his host, and was told he was so ill 
he could not bear to see the light or hear anyone speak. 
Surprised at this sudden malady, the prince would hav^e 
gone to see him, but hearing that he was asleep, and 
not wishing to disturb him, he went away with his wife 
and sister without bidding him farewell. His sister, con 
eluding that the gentleman's illness was only a pretence 
to avoid showing the marks she had left upon his face, 
was now assured beyond all doubt that it was he who 
had been her nightly assailant. The prince repeatedly 
sent word to him to return to court, but he did not obey 
until he had been thoroughly cured of all his wounds, 
except those which love and vexation had made in his 
heart. On his return to court, he could not sustain the 
presence of his victorious enemy without blushing. 
Though he had been possessed of more assurance than 
any man at court, he was so disconcerted that he often 
appeared before her quite abashed — a new proof that her 
suspicions were well founded. She broke with him, 
therefore, little by little. Adroitly as she did this, he 
failed not to perceive it, but durst not remonstrate for 
fear of worse. He kept his love concealed, and endured 
patiently a disgrace he had well merited.* 

There, ladies, is a story which should strike fear into 

* The princess and the gallant spoken of jn this novel are none 
other than the Queen of Navarre herself and Guillaume de Bonni- 
vet, Admiral of France, as we are informed by Brantome [Datnes 
Galantcs, Discours iv. t. vii.). He states the fact upon the au- 
thority of his grandmother, who> as well as his mother, Anne de 
Vivonne, was about Margaret's person, and it is generally regard- 
ed as true. It is to be observed, however, that Margaret has pur- 
posely introduced into her narrative several circumstances calcu 
lated to disguise her own identity ; the second widowhood, for in- 
stance, for the King of Navarre survived her, and the absence of 
children by both marriages, for Margaret had a surviving daughter 
by her second husband. The handsome and gallant Bonnivet fig- 
ures repeatedly in the Heptameroa 


those who would seize what does not belong to them, 
and which should inspire ladies with courage, consider- 
ing the virtue of the young princess and the good sense 
of her lady of honour. Should a similar thing befall one 
of you, here you see how it is to be remedied. 

" To my thinking," said Hircan, " the tall gentleman 
you have been telling us of had such a faint heart that 
he did not deserve the honour of having his adventure 
talkvl of. Having such a fine opportunity, nothing 
should have prevented him from profiting by it. His 
love, it must be owned, was not very great, since the 
fear of death and of shame found a place beside it in his 

"And what could the poor gentleman have done 
against two women .'* " said Nomerfide. 

" He should have killed the old one," replied Hircan, 
" and the young one, seeing herself alone, would have 
been half vanquished." 

"Killed!" exclaimed Nomerfide ; "you would turn 
a lover into a murderer ! It would be a terrible thing to 
fall into your hands, I see." 

" If I had pushed matters so far," continued Hircan, 
" I should think myself ruined in reputation unless I 
went the whole way to the end." 

" Do you think it matter for wonder," said Geburon. 
" that a princess trained to virtue proves too much for 
one man t What would you say, then, to one woman in 
low life escaping from two men ! " 

" Geburon," said Ennasuite, " I call upon you for the 
fifth novel. If I am not mistaken, you know one about 
this poor woman which will not be displeasing to the 

" Be it so, then," said Geburon ; " I will tell you a 
story which I know to be true, having examined into it 

First day:, QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 43 

on the spot. You will see from it that princesses arc 
not the only prudent and the only virtuous of their sex, 
and that often those who are reputed very amorous and 
very sly are less so than is supposed." 


A boatwoman escapes from two Cordeliers, who wanted to force 
her, and exposes them to public derision. 

There was in the port of Coulon, near Niort, a 
boatwoman, who did nothing day and night but convey 
people from point to point. Two Cordeliers of Niort 
crossed the river alone with her. As it was one of the 
wildest ferries in France, they took it into their heads 
to make love to her, for fear she should grow dull by the 
way ; she gave no more ear to them than they deserved ; 
but the good fathers, who were neither fatigued by the 
labour of the passage, nor chilled by the coldness of the 
water, nor abashed by the woman's refusal, resolved to 
force her, or throw her into the river if she was refrac- 
tory. But she was as good and as shrewd as they were 
wicked and witless, and said to them, " I am not so ill- 
natured as you might suppose ; only grant me two 
things I have to beg of you, and you will see I am not 
more willing to satisfy you than you are to be satisfied." 
The Cordeliers swore by their good St. Francis there 
was nothing they would not grant her to have from her 
what they wanted. " Well, then," said she, " I ask you, 
in the first place, to promise and vow that living man 
shall never know from you what passes between us." 


This they did with great readiness. " The second thing 
I ask is, that you will have to do with me one by one, 
for I should be too much ashamed if it was done in the 
presence of you both. Settle between yourselves which 
is to have me first." The Cordeliers thought that fair 
enough, and the }'ounger of them yielded precedence to 
the elder. 

Running the boat ashore at a little island, she said 
to the younger one, " Say your prayers there whilst 
your comrade and I go to another island. If he is 
satisfied with me when we come back, we will leave 
him, and you and I will go away together." The younger 
friar jumped ashore at once, and the boatwoman rowed 
away with his companion to another island. When they 
reached it, she pretended to be making her boat fast, 
whilst she said to the monk, " See if you can find a con- 
venient spot." The Cordelier, like a booby, stepped out 
of the boat to do as she told him, and no sooner was he 
ashore than, setting her foot against a tree, she shot the 
boat out into the stream, and left the two good fathers in 
the lurch. "Wait there, my masters," said she, "till 
God's angels comes to console you, for you will get 
nothing from me." The duped Cordeliers went down 
on their knees, and begged her, for Heaven's sake, not 
to serve them so, but take them to the port, upon their 
solemn oath they would ask nothing of her. "A pretty 
fool I should be," she replied, still rowing away, "to put 
myself into your hands again once I have got out of 

When she got home to the village, she told her hus- 
band what had occurred, and applied to the ministers of 
justice to come and capture those two wolves from 
whose fangs she had contrived to escape. The ministeis 
of justice set out for the purpose, well accompanied, for 

First day. -\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 4j 

there was no one, great or small, but was bent on taking 
part in this hunt. The poor friars, seeing such a multi- 
tude coming after them, hid themselves each on his 
island, as Adam did from the sight of God when he had 
eaten the apple. Half dead with shame and the fear of 
punishment, they were caught and led away prisoners, 
amid the jeers and hootings of men and women. " These 
good fathers," said one, " preach chastity to us and want 
to foul our wives." " They dare not touch money," 
said the husband, "but they are ready enough to handle 
women's thighs, which are far more dangerous." " They 
are sepulchres," said others, " whitened without, but full 
of rottenness within." " By their fruits you shall know 
the nature of these trees." In short, all the passages of 
Scripture against hypocrites were cast in the teeth of 
the poor prisoners. At, last the warden came to the 
rescue. They were given up to him at his request, upon 
his assuring the magistrate that he would punish them 
more severely than secular justice itself could do, and 
that, by way of reparation to the offended parties, they 
should say as many masses and prayers as might be de- 
sired. As he was a worthy man, they were chaptered 
in such a manner that they never afterwards passed over 
the river without crossing themselves, and beseeching 
God to keep them out of all temptation. 

If this boatwoman had the wit to trick two such bad 
men, what should they do who have seen and read of so 
many fine examples } If women who know nothing, 
who scarcely hear two good sermons in a year, and 
have no time to think of anything but earning their 
bread, do yet carefully guard their chastity, what ought 
not others of their sex to do who, having their livelihood 
secured, have nothing to do but to read the Holy Scrip- 
tures, hear sermons, and exercise themselves in all sorts 


of virtues ? This is the test by which it is known that 
the heart is truly virtuous, for the more simple and un- 
enlightened the individual, the greater are the works of 
God's spirit. Unhappy the lady who does not carefully 
preserve the treasure which does her so much honour 
when well kept, and so much dishonour when she keeps 
it ill ! 

" It strikes me, Geburon," said Longarine, " that it 
does not need much virtue to refuse a Cordelier. On 
the contrary, I should rather think it impossible to love 
such people." 

" Those who are not accustomed to have such lovers 
as you have," replied Geburon, " do not think so con- 
temptuously of Cordeliers. They are well-made, strap- 
ping fellows, can talk like angels, and are for the most 
part importunate as devils. Accordingly, the grisettes 
who escape out of their hands may fairly be called 

"O, by my faith!" exclaimed Nomerfide, raising her 
voice, " you may say what you will, but for my part I 
would rather be flung into the river than go to bed 
with a Cordelier." 

" You can swim, then," retorted Oisille, laughing. 

Nomerfide was piqued at this, and said with warmth, 
" There are those who have refused better men than 
Cordeliers, without making any flourish of trumpets 
about it, for all that." 

" Or yet beating the drum about what they have done 
and granted," rejoined Oisille, who laughed to see her 

" I perceive that Nomerfide has a mind to speak," 
said Geburon, " and I give my voice in her favour, that 
she may unburden her heart upon some good novel." 

"The remarks which have just been made," said 


first day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 4y 

Nomerfide, " concern me so little that they can give me 
neither pain nor pleasure. But as I have your voice, I 
beg you to hear mine, while I show you that, if one is 
sly for a good purpose, others are so for a bad one. We 
are vowed to speak the truth, and therefore I will not 
conceal it ; for just as the boatwoman's virtue is no 
honour to other women if they do not resemble her in 
it, so the vice of another cannot dishonour them. Listen, 


Stratagem Dy which a woman enabled her gallant to escape, when 
her husband, who was Ijlind of an eye, thought to surprise 
Ihem together. 

Charles, the last Duke of Alen^on, had an old 
valet-de-chambre who was blind of an eye, and who was 
married to a woman much younger than himself. The 
duke and duchess liked this valet better than any other 
domestic of that order in their household, and the conse- 
quence was that he could not go and see his wife as often 
as he could have wished, whilst she, unable to accommo- 
date herself to circumstances, so far forgot her honour and 
her conscience as to fall in love with a young gentleman 
of the neighbourhood. At last the affair got wind, and 
there was so much talk about it that it reached the ears 
of the husband, who could not believe it, so warm was 
the affection testified to him by his wife. One day, 
however, he made up his mind to know the truth of the 
matter, and to revenge himself, if he could, on the person 
who put this affront upon him. With this view he pre- 
tended to go for two or three days to a place at some 


little distance ; and no sooner had be taken his departure 
than his wife sent for her gallant. They had hardly been 
half an hour together, when the husband came and 
knocked loudly at the door. The wife, knowing but too 
well who it was, told her lover, who was so astounded 
that he could have wished he was still in his mother's 
womb. But while he was swearing, and confounding 
her and the intrigue which had brought him into such a 
perilous scrape, she told him not to be uneasy, for she 
would get him off without its costing him anything ; and 
that all he had to do was to dress himself as quickly as 

Meanwhile, the husband kept knocking, and calling 
to his wife as loud as he could bawl, but she pretended 
not to know him. "Why don't you get up," she cried to 
the people of the house, "and go and silence those who 
are making such a noise .'' Is this a proper time to come 
to honest people's houses .-' If my husband were here 
he would make you know better." The husband hear- 
ing her voice, shouted louder than ever : " Let me in, 
wife ; do you mean to keep me at the door till day- 
light?" At last, when she saw that her lover was ready 
to slip out, " Oh, is that you, husband } " she said ; " I 
am so glad you are come ! I was full of a dream I had 
that gave me the greatest pleasure I ever felt in my life. 
I thought you had recovered the sight of your eye." 
Here she opened the door, and catching her husband 
round the neck, kissed him, clapped one hand on his 
sound eye, and asked him if he did not see better than 
usual. Whilst the husband was thus blindfolded the 
gallant made his escape. The husband guessed how it 
was, but said, " I will watch you no more, wife. I thought 
to deceive you, but it is I who have been the dupe, and 
you have put the cunningest trick upon me that ever 

First day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 4^ 

was invented. God mend you ! for it passes the act of 
man to bring back a wicked woman from her evil ways 
by any means short of putting her to death. But since 
the regard I have had for you has not availed to make 
you behave better, perhaps the contempt with which I 
shall henceforth look upon you will touch you more, 
and have a more wholesome effect." Therefore he went 
away, leaving her in great confusion. At last, however, 
he was prevailed upon, by the solicitations of relations 
and friends, and by the tears and excuses of his wife, to 
cohabit with her again.* 


You see from this example, ladies, with what adroit 
ness a woman can get herself out of a scrape. If she is 
prompt at finding an expedient to conceal a bad deed, I 
believe she would be still more prompt and ingenious in 
discovering means to hinder herself from doing: a gfood 
one ; for, as I have heard say, good wit is always the 

" You may boast of your cunning as much as you 
will," said Hircan, " but I believe if the same thing had 
happened to you, you could not have concealed it." 

" I would as soon you told me flatly," said Nomer- 
fide, "that I am the most stupid woman in the world." 

" I do not say that," replied Hircan ; " but I look 
upon you as more likely to be alarmed at a rumour 
against you than to find an ingenious way of putting an 
end to it." 

* Although Margaret asserts that this is a true story, and that 
the actors in it belonged to the liousehold of her first husband, it 
is to be found in many previous collections ; as, for instance, the 
Ce7it jVonvelles Nouvelles, where it occurs as the sixteenth novel, 
entitled Le Borgne Avengle. It is the sixth fable of the first book 
of the Pantcha Tantra, a collection of Hindoo stories. 


"You think that everyone is like yourself, who to 
get rid of one rumour set another afloat. You pass for 
a very cunning man, but if you think that you surpass 
woman in that way, I will give up my turn to you, that 
you may tell us some story in point. Of course you 
know plenty, of which you are yourself the hero." 

" I am not here to make myself appear worse than I 
am," returned Hircan, " though there are some who give 
me a worse character than I desire to deserve," he added, 
looking at his wife. 

" Don't let me hinder you from speaking the truth," 
said she. " I would rather hear you relate your sly 
tricks than see you play them. But be assured that 
nothing can diminish the love I have for you." 

" For that reason," said Hircan, " I do not complain 
of the injustice with which you often judge me. And 
so, since we understand each other, there will be so 
much the more peace and quiet for the future. But I 
am not the man to tell a story of myself, the truth of 
which may be displeasing to you, but shall relate one of 
a person who was an intimate friend of mine," 


Trick put by a mercer of Paris upon an old woman, to conceal his 
intrigue with her daughter. 

There was a mercer in Paris who was enamoured of 
a girl in his neighbourhood, or, to speak more properly, 
who was loved by her, rather than she by him, for he 
only pretended to be attached to her in order to conceal 
another amour with a more exalted object. For her 

First day^ \ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 5 1 

part, she was very willing to be deceived, and loved him 
so much that she forgot all the usual coyness of her sex. 
After the mercer had long taken the trouble of going in 
search of her, he used afterwards to make her come to 
him wherever he pleased. The mother, who was a re- 
spectable woman, perceived this, and forbade her daugh- 
ter ever to speak to the mercer, under pain of being sent 
to a convent ; but the girl, who loved the mercer more 
than she feared her mother, behaved worse than ever. 
One day the mercer, finding her alone in a convenient 
place, began to entertain her on matters that ought not 
to be discussed before v/itnesses ; but a servant, who 
had seen him come in, ran and told the mother, who 
hastened to the spot to put an end to the conversation. 
The daughter, hearing her footsteps, said, with tears in 
her eyes, " My love for you will cost me dear ; here 
comes my mother, and she will now be convinced of 
what she always feared." The mercer, without losing 
his presence of mind, instantly c^uitted the girl, ran to 
meet her mother, threw his arms around the old wo- 
man's neck, hugged her with all his might, threw her on 
a little bed, and began to expend upon her all the rage 
her daughter had excited within him. The poor old 
woman, quite confounded at being treate 1 in this way, 
could only exclaim, " What are you about t Are you 
mad.?" But he no more desisted than if she had been 
the handsomest young girl in the world ; and if her 
screams had not brought the servant men and maids to 
her assistance, she would have suffered the fate she 
apprehended so much for her daughter. The servants 
dragged the good woman by force out of the mercer's 
hands, without the poor creature ever knowing why she 
had been so worried. During the scuffle, the daughter 
escaped to a neighbour's house, where there was a wed« 


ding going on ; and she and the mercer often afterwards 
laughed at the expense of the old woman, who never 
detected their intercourse. 

Here you have, ladies, an instance of a man having 
been cunning enough to deceive an old woman, and save 
the honour of a young one. If I were to name the per- 
sons, or if you had seen the countenance of the mercer 
and the surprise of the old woman, you must have had 
very tender consciences to keep from laughing. I have 
sufftciently proved to you by this example that men are 
not less ingenious than women in inventing at need ex- 
pedients upon the spot ; and so, ladies, you need not be 
afraid of falling into their hands, for, should your own 
wit fail, you will find theirs ready to screen your honour. 

" I own, Hircan," said Longarine, " that the story is 
comical and the stratagem well invented ; but, for all 
that, it does not follow that the example is one which 
ought to be imitated by girls. I have no doubt there 
are plenty whom you would wish to approve of it ; but 
you have too much sense to wish that )our wife and 
your daughter, whose honour is dearer to you than 
pleasure, should play at such a game. I believe there is 
no one who would watch them more closely, and put a 
stop to such doings more promptly, than yourself." 

"Upon my conscience," replied Hircan, "if my wife 
had done the same thing, I should not esteem her the 
less, provided I knew nothing about it. I don't know if 
some one has not played as good a trick at my expense, 
but, fortunately, as I know nothing, I give myself no 

"The wicked are always suspicious," said Parla- 
mente ; " but happy are they who give no cause of sus- 

First day.] QUE EAT OF NA VARRE. c, 

" I can't say I ever saw a fire without some smoke," 
said Longarine ; " but I have certainly seen smoke with- 
out any fire. Those who have bad hearts suspect ahke 
where there is mischief and where there is none." 

" You have so well supported the cause of ladies 
unjustly suspected," said Hircan to Longarine, " that I 
call upon you for your novel. I hope you will not make 
us weep, as Madame Oisille has done, by too much praise 
of honest women." 

" Since you would have me make you laugh," said 
Longarine, laughing with all her heart, " it shall not be- 
at the expense of our sex. I will let you see how easy 
it is to cheat jealous wives who think they are wise 
enough to cheat their husbands." 


A man having lain with his wife, believing that he was in bed with 
his servant, sends his friend to do the same thing ; and the friend 
makes a cuckold of him, without the wife being aware of it. 

There was in the county of Allez a person named 
Bornet, who had married a virtuous wife, and held her 
honour and reputation dear, as is the case, I suppose, with 
all the husbands here present. Though he desired that 
his wife should be faithful to him, he did not choose to 
be equally bound to her ; in fact, he made love to his 
servant, though all the good he could get by the change 
was the pleasure attending a diversity of viands. He 
had a neighbour, much of his own sort, named Sandras, a 
tailor by trade, with whom he was on terms of such close 
friendship that everything was common between them, 


except the wife. Accordingly, Bornet declared the de- 
sign he had formed upon the servant-girl to his friend, 
who not only approved of it, but did what he could for 
its success, in hopes of having a finger in the pie. But 
the servant would not hear of such a thing, and finding 
herself persecuted on all sides, she complained to her 
mistress, and begged to be allowed to go home to her re- 
lations, as she could no longer endure her master's im- 
portunity. The mistress, who was very fond of her 
husband, and who even before this had been jealous of 
him, was very glad to have this opportunity of reproach- 
ing him, and showing that it was not without reason she 
had suspected him. With this view she induced the 
servant to finesse with her master, give him hopes by 
degrees, and finally promise to let him come to bed to 
her in her mistress's wardrobe. " The rest you may 
leave to me," she said. " I will take care that you shall 
not be troubled at all, provided you let me know the night 
he is to come to you, and that you do not breathe a syl- 
lable of the matter to anyone living." 

The girl faithfully obeyed her mistress's instructions, 
and her master was so delighted that he hastened at 
once to impart this good news to his friend, who begged 
that, since he had been concerned in the bargain, he 
should also partake of the pleasure. This being agreed 
to, and the hour being come, the master went to bed, as 
he supposed, with the servant ; but the mistress had 
taken her place, and received him, not as a wife, but as 
a bashful and frightened maid, and she played her part 
so well that he never suspected anything. I cannot tell 
you which of the two felt the greater satisfaction, he in 
the belief that he was cheating his wife, or she in the 
belief that she was cheating her husband. 

After he had remained with her not so long as he 

•First day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. ^^ 

wished, but as long as he could, for he showed symptoms 
of an old married man, he went out of doors to his friend, 
who was younger and more vigorous, and told him what 
a fine treat he had just had. " You know what you 
promised me," said the friend. " Well, be quick then," 
said the master, " for fear she gets up, or my wife wants 
her." The friend lost no time, but took the unoccupied 
place beside the supposed servant, who, thinking he was 
her husband, let him do whatever he liked, without a 
word said on either side. He made a much longer 
business of it than the husband, greatly to the surprise 
of the wife, who was not accustomed to be so well re- 
galed. However, she took it all patiently, comforting 
herself with the thought of what she would say to him 
in the morning, and how she would make game of him. 
The friend got out of bed towards daybreak, but not 
without taking the stirrup-cup. During this ceremony 
he drew from her finger the ring with which her husband 
had wedded her, a thing which the women of that coun- 
try preserve with great superstition, thinking highly of 
a woman who keeps it till death : on the other hand, 
one who has had the mischance to lose it is looked upon 
as having given her faith to another than her husband. 

When the friend had rejoined the husband, the latter 
asked him what he thought of his bedfellow. " Never 
was a better," replied the friend ; " and if I had not been 
afraid of being surprised by daylight, I should not have 
come away from her so soon." That said, they went to 
bed, and slept as quietly as they could. In the morning, 
when they were dressing, the husband perceived on his 
friend's finger the ring, which looked very like that he 
had given his wife when he married her. He asked who 
had given him that ring, and was astounded to hear that 
he had taken it from the servant's finger. " Oh Lord ! 


have I made a cuckold of myself, without mywife's know- 
ing it ? " cried the husband, knocking his head against 
the wall. The friend suggested for his consolation that 
possibly his wife might have given the ring overnight to 
the servant to keep. 

Home goes the husband, and finds his wife looking 
handsomer and gayer than usual, delighted as she was 
to have hindered her servant from committing a sin, and 
to have convicted her husband without any more incon- 
venience to herself than having passed a night without 
sleeping. The husband, seeing her in such good spirits, 
said to himself, " She would not look so merry if she knew 
what has happened." Falling into chat with her upon 
indifferent matters, he took her hand, and saw that the 
ring she always wore was not on her finger. Aghast, 
and with a trembling voice, he asked her what she had 
done with it. This gave her the opportunity she was on 
the watch for to let loose upon him, and she seized it 
with avidity. 

" Oh, you most abominable of men ! " she said, " from 
whom do you suppose you took it } You thought you 
had it from the servant. You thought it was for her you 
did more than you ever did for me. The first time you 
came to bed to her, I thought you made as much of her 
as it was possible to do ; but after you left the room and 
came again the second time, it seemed as though you 
were the very devil of incontinence. What infatuation 
has possessed you to praise me so much, you wretch } 
You have had me long enough, and never cared about 
me. Is it the beauty and plumpness of your servant ■ 
that made the pleasure seem so sweet to you .-' No, base 
man, it is the fire of your own disorderly lust that makes 
you so blindly and madly in love with the servant, that 
in the furious fit you were in I believe you would have 

The poor husband was utterly confounded and horrified. 

Photographed from Life. 
Copyright, 1902, by D. Trenor. 

First day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. gy 

taken a she-goat with a nightcap on for a fine girl. It is 
high time, husband, that you should mend your ways* 
and content yourself with me, who am your wife, and, as 
you know, an honest woman, as much as you did when 
you mistook me for a vicious woman. My only object 
in the matter has been to withdraw you from vice, so 
that in our old days we may live in amity and repose of 
conscience ; for if you choose to continue the life you 
have led hitherto, I would rather we should separate than 
that I should see you daily treading the path that leads 
to hell, and at the same time using up your body and 
your substance. But if you resolve to behave better, and 
to fear God and keep his commandments, I am willing 
to forget the past, as I trust God will forgive the ingrat- 
itude I am guilty of in not loving him as much as I 

If ever a man was utterly confounded and horrified, 
it was the poor husband. It was bad enough to think 
that he had forsaken his wife, who was fair, chaste, and 
virtuous, and overflowing with affection for him, for a 
woman who did not love him ; but it was infinitely worse 
when he represented to himself that he had been so un- 
lucky as to make her quit the path of virtue, in spite of 
herself and without knowing it, to share with another 
the pleasures which should have been his alone, and to 
have forged for himself the horns of perpetual mockery. 
Seeing, however, that his wife was already angry enough 
about his intended intrigue with the servant, he did not 
dare to tell her of the villainous trick he had played upon 
herself. He implored her pardon, promised to make 
amends for the past by the strictest propriety of conduct 
in future, and gave her back her ring, which he had taken 
from his friend, whom he begged not to say a word of 
what had happened. But as everything whispered in the 


ear is by-and-by proclaimed from the house-top, the ad- 
venture became public at last, and people called him a 
cuckold, without any regard for his wife's feelings.* 

It strikes me, ladies, that if all those who have been 
guilty of similar infidelity to their wives were punished 
in the same way, Hircan and Saffredent would have great 
cause to fear. 

" Why, Longarine ? " said Saffredent. " Are Hircan 
and I the only married men in the company } " 

" You are not the only married men," she replied. 
" but you are the only ones capable of playing such a 

" Who told you," returned Saffredent, " that we have 
sought to debauch our wives* servant-maids } "' 

" If those who are interested in the matter," she an- 
swered, "were to speak the truth, we should certainly 
hear of servant-maids dismissed before their time." 

"This is pleasant, truly," observed Geburon ; "you 
promised to make the company laugh, and instead of 
that you vex these gentlemen." 

" It comes to the same thing," replied Longarine. 
"Provided they do not draw their swords, their anger 
will not fail to make us laugh." 

" If our wives were to listen to this lady," said Hircan, 
" there is not a married couple in the company but she 
would set at variance." 

" Nay," said Longarine, " I know before whom I 
speak. Your wives are so prudent, and love you so much, 
that though you were to make them bear horns as big 
as those of a deer, they would believe, and try to make 
others believe, that they were chaplets of roses." 

* This tale is taken from the fabliau of Le Meunier d'Alens, and 
also occurs in the facetis of Poggio, in Sacchetti, and in the Cent 
Nouvelles A^oitvelles. 

First day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE, en 

The whole company, inckiding even the ladies con. 
cerned, laughed so heartily that the conversation would 
have ended there, if Dagoucin, who had not yet spoken, 
had not taken it into his head to say, " A man is surely 
very unreasonable who cannot content himself when he 
has the means. I have often known people who, think- 
ing to better themselves, only made themselves much 
worse off, because they could not be satisfied in reason. 
Such people deserve no pity ; for, after all, inconstancy 
is unpardonable." 

" But what would you do," inquired Simontault, 
" with those who have not found their true half .'' Would 
you call it inconstancy on their part to seek it wherever 
It might be found .-' " 

"As it is impossible to know," replied Dagoucin, 
" where is that half so exactly like its counterpart that 
there is no difference between them, one should hold 
fast where love has once attached him, and change 
neither in heart nor will, happen what may. For if she 
you love is like you, and has but one will with you, it is 
yourself you will love, and not her." 

" You will fall into a false opinion, Dagoucin," said 
Hircan, " as though we ought to love our wives without 
being loved." 

" When one loves a woman, Hircan," said Dagoucin, 
" only because she has beauty, charming manners, and 
fortune, and the end he proposes to himself is pleasure, 
honours, or riches, such a love is not of long duration ; 
for when the principle that inspired it ceases, the love 
itself vanishes at once. I am then convinced that he 
who loves, and has no other end and desire than to love 
well, will die rather than cease to love." 

" In good faith, Dagoucin," said Simontault, "I do 
not believe you have ever been really in love. Had you 


known what it is to be so, like other men, you would 
not now be picturing to us Plato's Republic, founded on 
fine phrases, and on Httle or no experience." 

"You are mistaken," replied Dagoucin. "I have 
been in love ; I am so still, and shall be so as long as I live. 
Ikit I am so much afraid that the demonstration of my 
passion would do injustice to the perfection of my love, 
that I shrink from making it known to her by whom I 
would be loved in equal measure. I dare not even think 
how I love her, lest my eyes should betray the secret of 
my heart ; for the more I conceal my flame, the more 
pleasure I feel in the consciousness that I love per- 

" Yet I suppose you would be very glad to be loved 
in return } " said Geburon. 

•' I own I should ; but as nothing could diminish my 
love, though I love much and am not loved, so it could 
not be augmented, even were I loved as much as I 

" Take care, Dagoucin," said Parlamente, who dis- 
approved of this fantastic sentiment. " I have known 
others who chose rather to die than to declare them- 

" And they were happy, doubtless," returned Da- 

" Yes," retorted Saffredent, " and worthy, moreover, 
of being classed with those innocents for whom the 
Church chants Non loquciido, sed moriendo confessi sunt. 
I have heard much of these languishing lovers, but I 
never yet saw one of them die for love. Since I myself 
have recovered, after much tribulation, I do not believe 
that any other man can ever die from that cause." 

" Ah, Saffredent ! " said Dagoucin, " how can you 
expect to be loved ! I know many instances of lovers 

First Jay ^^ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 6 1 

who have died from nothing else than the intensity of 
their passion." 

"Since that is the case, tell us one of those stories, 
and let it be a good one," said Longarine. 

" Yes," said he ; " to confirm my doctrine by signs 
and miracles, I will tell you a story that happened three 
years ago." 


Deplorable death of a lover in consequence of his knowing too 
late that he was beloved by his mistress. 

On the confines of Dauphine and Provence there 
lived a gentleman who was much better endowed with 
the gifts of nature and education than with those of 
fortune. He was passionately enamoured of a demoiselle 
whose name I will not mention, on account of her re 
lations, who are of good and great houses ; but you may 
rely on the reality of the act. Not being of as good 
family as she was, he durst not declare his passion ; but 
though his inferior birth made him despair of ever being 
able to marry her, nevertheless the love he bore her was 
so pure and respectful that he would have died rather 
than ask of her anything which could compromise her 
honour. He loved her, then, only because he thought 
her perfectly lovable, and he loved her so long that at 
last she had some suspicion of the fact. Seeing, then, 
that his love for her was founded on virtue only, she 
deemed herself fortunate in being loved by so upright a 
man ; and she treated him with such affability that he, 
who aspired to nothing better than this, was transported 


with delight. But envy, the enemy of all quiet, could 
not suffer so innocent and so sweet an intercourse to con- 
tinue. Some one told the girl's mother he was surprised 
the gentleman went so often to her house, that people 
saw it was her daughter's beauty that attracted him, and 
that they had often been seen together. The mother, 
who was thoroughly assured of the gentleman's probity, 
was greatly annoyed at finding that a bad interpretation 
was put upon his visits ; but in the end, dreading scan- 
dal and malicious gossip, she begged he would for some 
time cease to frequent her house. The gentleman was 
the more mortified at this, as the proper and respectful 
manner in which he had always behaved towards the 
daughter had deserved very different treatment. How^- 
ever, to put an end to the gossip about him, he discon- 
tinued his visits. 

Absence, meanwhile, by no means diminished his 
love ; but one dav, when he was paying a visit to his 
mistress, he heard it proposed that she should marry a 
gentleman not richer than himself, and whom, conse^ 
quently, he thought no better entitled to have her. He 
began to take heart, and employed his friends to speak on 
his part in the hope that if the lady was allowed to choose, 
she would prefer him to his rival ; but as the latter was 
much the wealthier man, the young lady's mother and 
relations gave him the preference. The gentleman, who 
knew that his mistress was a loser as well as himself, was 
so grieved at being rejected that, without any malady, 
he began by degrees to waste away, and became so 
changed that one would have said he had covered his 
handsome face with the mask of death, to which from 
hour to hour he was hastening. Still he could not refrain 
from going as often as he could to see her whom beloved 
so well ; but at last, his strength being worn out, he was 

First day.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 63 

compelled to keep his bed, but would never let his mis- 
tress know of it for fear of distressing her. So entirely 
did he give himself up to despair, that he neither ate, 
drank, slept, nor rested ; and became so lean and wan 
that he was no longer to be recognised. Some one made 
his state known to the mother of the demoiselle, who 
was very kind-hearted, and had besides so much esteem 
for the gentleman, that if the relations had been of the 
same mind as herself and her daughter, the personal 
merit of the invalid would have been preferred to the 
alleged wealth of the other suitor : but the paternal re- 
lations would not hear of it. However, she went with 
her daughter to see the poor gentleman, whom she found 
more dead than alive. As he knew that his end was 
near, he had confessed and communicated, and never ex- 
pected to see any more visitors ; but on beholding again 
her who was his life and his resurrection, his strength 
returned so that he at once sat up in the bed, and said, 
" What brings you hither, madam } How come you to 
visit a man who has already one foot in the grave, and 
of whose death you are the cause .-* " 

" What ! " exclaimed the lady. " Is it possible we 
should cause the death of one we love so much "*. Tell 
me, I entreat, why you speak in this manner .-* " 

" Madam, I concealed my love for your daughter as 
long as I could ; my relations, however, who have asked 
her of you in marriage, have gone further than I wished, 
since I have thereby had the misfortune to lose hope. 
I say misfortune, not with reference to my individual 
satisfaction, but because I know that no one will ever 
treat her so well or love her so much as I would have 
done. Her loss of the best and most faithful friend and 
servant she has in the world touches me more sensibly 
than the loss of my life, which I wish to preserve for her 


alone. Nevertheless, since henceforth it can be of no 
use to her, I gain much in losing it." 

The mother and daughter tried to comfort him. 
" Cheer up, my friend," said the mother, " I promise you 
that, if God restores you to health, my daughter shall 
never have any other husband than you. She is present, 
and I command her to make you the same promise." 

The daughter, weeping sorely, assured him of what 
her mother said ; but he, knowing that although God 
were to restore him to health, he should not have his 
mistress, and that it was only to cheer him that these 
hopes were held out, replied, " Had you spoken in this 
manner three months ago, I should have been the health- 
iest and happiest gentleman in France ; but this suc- 
cour comes so late that I can neither believe it nor rest 
any hope upon it." Then, as they strove to overcome his 
incredulity, he continued, " Since you promise me a bless- 
ing which can never be mine, even if you would grant 
it, I will ask you to confer on me one much less, which I 
have never ventured to demand of you." They both 
vowed that they would grant his request, and that he 
might declare it boldly. " I implore you," said he, " to 
put into my arms her whom you promise me for a wife, 
and to bid her embrace and kiss me." 

The daughter, who was not accustomed to such 
caresses, was on the point of making objections ; but her 
mother expressly commanded her to comply, seeing that 
there was no longer in him either the feeling or the power 
of a living man. After such a command, the daughter 
no longer hesitated, but going up to the bedside, " Cheer 
up, my friend," she said, " cheer up, I conjure you." 
The poor dying creature, notwithstanding his extreme 
weakness, stretched out his emaciated arms, embraced 
with all his might her who was the cause of his death, 

First day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 65 

and laying his cold pale lips to hers, clung there as long 
as he could. 

" I have loved you," he said at last, "with a love so 
intense and so pure that, marriage excepted, I have never 
desired any other favor of you than that which I now 
receive. But as God has not been pleased to unite us 
in marriage, I gladly surrender up my soul to Him who 
is love and perfect charity, and who knows how much I 
have loved you, and how pure my desires have been, be- 
seeching Him that, since I hold the dear object of my 
desires within my arms, He will receive my soul in his." 
So saying, he clasped her again in his embrace with such 
vehemence that his enfeebled heart, being unable to 
sustain the effort, was abandoned by all his spirits ; for 
joy so dilated them that the seat of the soul gave way 
and fled to its Creator. 

Though it was already some time since the poor 
gentleman had expired, and could not retain his hold, 
the love she had felt for him, and which she had always 
concealed, broke forth at this moment in such wise that 
the mother and the servants had much difficulty in de- 
taching the almost dead survivor from the corpse. The 
poor gentleman was honourably interred ; but the great- 
est triumph in his obsequies was the tears and cries 
of that poor demoiselle, who as openly displayed her 
feelings after his death as she had concealed them during 
his life, as if she would make amends for the wrong she 
had done him. And I have been told that for all they 
gave her a husband to console her, she never afterwards 
knew real joy.* 

* It is possible that this may be, as Margaret asserts, a true 
story of her own day, but it very closely resembles the history of 
the troubadour Geoffroi Rudel of Blaye, who lived in the latter 
part of the twelfth century. Merely upon hearsay of the moral and 



Does it not strike you, gentlemen, who refuse to 
believe me, that this example must force you to confess 
that love, too much concealed and too little known, 
brings people to the grave ? There is not one of you but 
knows the relations on both sides ; therefore you cannot 
question the fact. But this is one of those things which 
no one believes until he has experienced it. 

"Well," said Hircan, who saw that the ladies were 
weeping, " a greater fool I never heard of. Now, in good 
faith, is it reasonable that we should die for women who 
are made only for us, and that we should be afraid of 
asking of them what God commands them to give .'* T do 
not speak for myself, or for others who are married, for 
I have as much as I want in that way, or more ; but I 
say it for those who stand in need. They are, to my 
thinking, great blockheads to fear those who ought to 
fear them. Don't you see that this girl repented of her 
imprudence .-' Since she embraced the dead man — a thing 
repugnant to nature — rely upon it, she would still better 
have embraced the living man, if he had been as bold as 
he was pitiable on his deathbed." 

" By the very conduct for which you upbraid him," 
said Oisille, " he showed that he loved honestly, and for 
that he deserves eternal praise ; for chastity in an 
enamoured heart is a thing more divine than human." 

" Madam," replied Saffredent, " to confirm what 

personal perfections of the Countess of Tripoli, he fell so des- 
perately in love with her that he pined away, and embarked, in an 
advanced stage of illness, to go and see her. When the vessel 
reached the port of Tripoli he was too weak to quit it. Moved by 
so extraordinary a display of love, the countess visited him on 
board, took his hand, and spoke graciously and cheeringly to him. 
Geoffroi could hardly falter out his thanks, and, overcome by emo- 
tion, instantly expired. 

First day \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 67 

Hircan has just said, I beg you to believe that fortune 
favours those who are bold, and that no man who is 
loved by a lady fails to obtain from her at last what he 
demands, either in whole or in part, provided he knows 
how to set about it sagely and amorously ; but ignorance 
and timidity make men lose many a good fortune. 
What is smgular is, that they attribute the loss of them 
to the virtue of their mistress, which they have never 
put to the least proof. Be assured, madam, that no 
fortress was ever well attacked but it was taken at 

" I am shocked at you two," said Parlamente, " that 
you dare to hold such language. Those whom you have 
loved have little reason to be obliged to you ; or else you 
have employed your address upon such easy conquests 
that you have concluded all others are like them." 

" For my part, madam," said Saffredent, " I have the 
misfortune to have nothing to boast of ; but this I at- 
tribute much less to the virtue of the ladies than to the 
fault I have committed in not having conducted my en- 
terprises with sufficient sagacity and prudence. In 
support of my opinion, I shall cite no other authority 
than that of the old woman in the ' Romance of the 
Rose,' who says, ' Without question, fair sir, we are all 
made for each other ; every she for every he, and every 
he for every she.' In short, I am persuaded that if a 
woman is once in love, her lover will compass his end 
unless he be a booby." 

" Now if I should name a lady," returned Parlamente, 
"who loved well, was strongly solicited, pressed, and 
importuned, and yet remained a virtuous woman, vic- 
torious over her love and her lover, would you own that 
this fact, which is truth itself, was possible 1 " 

" Why, yes," replied Saffredent. 

68 THE HEPTAMERO!\f OF THE {Novel lO. 

"Then you are very incredulous if you do not believe 
the example adduced by Dagoucin." 

" As I have given you," said Dagoucin, " an authen- 
tic instance of virtuous love on the part of a gentleman, 
which continued to his last gasp, if you, madam, know 
any story that is to the honour of some lady, I beg you 
will be good enough to finish the day by relating it. 
Never mind the length ; for there is time enough still to 
say many good things." 

" Since I am to finish the day," said Parlamente, " I 
will not make you a long preamble, my story being so 
good, so beautiful, and so true, that I long to put you in 
possession of it. I have not been an eye-witness to the 
facts ; but I liave them from an intimate friend of the 
hero, who related them to me on condition that if I re- 
peated them I should conceal the names of the persons. 
Everything, then, which I am about to tell you is true, 
except the names, places, and the country." 


Tlie loves of Amadour and Florida, wherein are seen several strat- 
agems and dissimulations, and the e.\emplary chastity of 

There was in the county of Aranda, in Aragon, a 
lady who, while still quite young, was left a widow by 
Count Aranda, with one son and one daughter, the latter 
of whom was named Florida. She spared no pains to 
bring up her children according to their qualities in 
virtue and good breeding, so that her house was con- 
sidered to be one ol the most honourable in all the 

First day. 1 QUEEN OF NAVARRE. gg 

Spains. She often went to Toledo, where the King of 
Spain then resided ; and when she came to Saragossa, 
which was not far from her own house, she used to re- 
main a long time at the queen's court, where she was as 
much esteemed as any lady could be. Going one day, 
according to her custom, to pay her court to the king, 
who was then in Saragossa, she passed through a village 
belonging to the Viceroy of Catalonia, who did not quit 
the frontiers of Perpignan, on account of the wars be- 
tween the Kings of France and Spain. But as peace 
was then made, the viceroy, accompanied by several 
officers, had come to pay his devoirs to the king. The 
viceroy, having been apprised that the countess was to 
pass through his domains, went to meet her, as well by 
reason of the old friendship he bore her, as to do her 
honour as the king's kinswoman. He was accompanied 
by several gentlemen of merit, who had acquired so 
much glory and reputation during the wars that every- 
one thought it a good fortune to enjoy their society. 
There was one among them named Amadour, who, not- 
withstanding his youth (he was not more than eighteen 
or nineteen), had such an air of self-possession, and a 
judgment so ripe, that one would have chosen him 
among a thousand as a fit man to govern a state. It is 
true that besides good sense he had so engaging a mien, 
and graces so vivid and natural, that one never tired of 
gazing upon him. His conversation so well corres- 
ponded with all this, that it was hard to say whether 
nature had been more bountiful in regard to corporeal 
or to mental endowments. But what gained him most 
esteem was his great daring, far exceeding what was 
common with persons of his age. He had on so many 
occasions shown what he was capable of, that not only 
Spain, but France and Italy also, highly esteemed his 


virtues, for he had never spared himself in any of the 
wars in which he had been engaged. When his country 
was at peace he went in search of war among foreigners, 
and won the respect and love of friends and enemies. 

This gentleman was among those who accompanied 
his captam to the domain at which the countess had 
arrived. He could not behold with indifference the 
beauty and the charms of her daughter, who was then 
but twelve years old. He had never, he thought, seen 
a being so beautiful and of such high breeding, and he 
believed that if he could have her good grace he should 
be happier than if he possessed all the wealth and all 
the pleasures he could receive from another. After 
having long regarded her, he finally resolved to love her, 
in spite of all the insurmountable obstacles to success 
which reason presented to his view, whether on account 
of disparity of birth, or as regarded the extreme youth of 
the beautiful girl, who was not yet of an age to listen to 
tender speeches. Against all these obstacles he set a 
resolute hope, and promised himself that time and pa- 
tience would bring all his toils to a happy end. To rem- 
edy the greatest difficulty, which consisted in the remote- 
ness of his residence and the few opportunities he had 
of seeing Florida, he resolved to marry contrary to what 
he had resolved in Barcelona and Perpignan, where he 
was in such favour with the ladies that they hardly re- 
fused him anything. He had lived so long on those 
frontiers during the war that he had the air of a Catalan 
rather than of a Castilian, though he was born at Toledo, 
of a rich and distinguished family. Being a younger 
son, he had not much patrimony ; but love and fortune, 
seeing him ill provided by his parents, resolved to make 
him a chef-d'oeuvre, and gave him by means of his valour 
what the laws of the country refused him. He was 

First day. \ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 7 1 

thoroughly versed in the art of war, and princes and 
lords esteemed him so highly that he oftener refused 
their good offices than took the trouble to solicit them. 

The Countess of Aranda arrived then in Saragossa, 
and was extremely well received by the king and the 
whole court. The Governor of Catalonia paid her fre- 
quent visits, in which Amadour failed not to accompany 
him, for the sole pleasure of seeing Florida, for he, in 
order to make himself known in such good company, 
attached himself to the daughter of an old knight, his 
neighbour. Her name was Aventurada. She had been 
brought up from childhood with Florida, and knew all 
the secrets of her heart. Whether it was that Amadour 
found her to his taste, or that her dowry of three thou- 
sand ducats a year tempted him, he made her an offer 
of marriage. She listened to him with pleasure ; but as 
he was poor, and the old knight was rich, she was afraid 
he would never consent to the marriage, except at the 
solicitation of the Countess of Aranda. She addressed 
herself, therefore, to Florida, and said, " I believe, madam, 
that this Castilian gentleman, who, as you are aware, 
often speaks to me here, intends to seek me in marriage. 
You know what sort of man my father is, and you must 
be sure he will never give his consent unless the count- 
ess and you have the goodness to press him strongly." 
Florida, who loved the damsel like herself, assured her 
she would make the business her own ; whereupon 
Aventurada presented Amadour to her, who on kissing 
her hand had like to faint for joy. Though he was con- 
sidered one of the men who spoke best in all the Spains, 
he could not find a tongue in presence of Florida. She 
was greatly surprised at this, for though she was but 
twelve years old, she nevertheless well remembered to 
have heard that there was not in Spain a man who could 


deliver what he had to say more fluently, or with a better 
grace. Seeing, then, that he uttered not a word, she 
broke silence. 

" You are so well known by reputation all over the 
Spams," she said, " that it would be surprising, Senor 
Amadour, if you were unknown here ; and all who know 
you desire to have an opportunity to serve you. So if I 
can be of use to you in any way, I beg you will employ 
me." Amadour, who was gazing on Florida's charms, 
was so rapt and transported that he could hardly say 
grammercy. Though Florida was much surprised at his 
silence, she attributed it to some caprice rather than to 
its true cause, and retired without saying more. " Do 
not be surprised," said Amadour to her he wished to 
marry, "if I was tongue-tied in presence of the Lady 
Florida. She speaks so discreetly, and so many virtues 
are latent under her great youth, that admiration made 
me dumb. As you know her secrets, I beg you will tell 
me, Aventurada, how is it possible that she does not 
possess the hearts of all the gentlemen of this court, for 
those who shall know her and love her not must be 
stones or brutes." Aventurada, who already loved 
Amadour above all men, and could conceal nothing from 
him, told him that Florida was loved by everybody ; but 
that, in accordance with the custom of the country, she 
spoke to few ; and that as yet she was aware of only 
two persons who made much show of love for Florida, 
and those were two young Spanish princes, who desired 
to marry her. One was the son of the Fortunate In- 
fante, and the other was the young Duke of Cardona. 

" Tell me, pray," said Amadour, " which of the two 
do you think she loves best } " 

" She is so good and virtuous that all she can be pre- 
vailed on to say is, that she has no choice but as her 

First day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. ^3 

mother pleases. As far, however, as we can judge, she 
Hkes the son of the Fortunate Infante better than the 
young Duke of Cardona. I beheve you to be a man of 
such good sense that you may, if you Hke, come to a 
right surmise upon the matter at once. The son of the 
Fortunate Infante was brought up at this court, and is 
the handsomest and most accomphshed young prince in 
Europe. If the question were to be decided by the 
votes of us maidens, this match would take place, in 
order that the most charming couple in all Spain might 
be united. You must know that, although they are both 
very young, she being but twelve and he fifteen, they 
have loved each other these three years. If you wish to 
have her good grace, I advise you to become his friend 
and servant." 

Amadour was very glad to hear that Florida loved 
something, for he hoped, with the help of time, to be- 
come, not her husband, but her lover ; for her virtue 
caused him no uneasiness, his only fear being lest she 
should not love at all. He had little difficulty in intro- 
ducing himself to the son of the Fortunate Infante, and 
still less in gaining his goodwill, for he was expert in all 
the exercises which the young prince was fond of. He 
was, above all, a good horseman, skilled in feats of arms, 
and in all sorts of exercises befitting a young man. As 
war was then beginning again in Languedoc, Amadour 
was obliged to return with the governor ; but it was not 
without keen regret, for there was no prospect of his 
returning to the place where he could see Florida. Be- 
fore his departure he spoke to his brother, who was ma- 
jor-domo to the Queen of Spain, told him the good match 
he had in the Countess of Aranda's house in the Lady 
Aventurada, and begged him to do his best during his 
absence to further his marriage, and to procure on his 


behalf the influence of the king, the queen, and all his 
friends. The brother, who loved Amadour not only as a 
brother, but for his great worth, promised to do all he 
could, and bestirred himself so well that Aventurada's 
miserly old father forgot his avarice, and suffered him- 
self to be moved by Amadour's virtues, as they were 
represented to him by the Countess of Aranda, the 
beautiful Florida, and the young Count of Aranda, who 
was beginning, as he grew up, to love people of merit. 
After the marriage had been agreed on between the re- 
lations, the major-domo made his brother return to Spain 
under favour of a truce then pending between the two 
kings. During this truce the King of Spain withdrew 
to Madrid, to avoid the bad air which was in several 
places, and at the request of the Countess of Aranda 
gave his sanction to the marriage of the heiress-Duchess 
of Medinaceli with the little Count of Aranda. The 
wedding was celebrated at the palace of Madrid. Ama- 
dour was present, and turned the occasion to such 
account that he married her whom he had inspired with 
more love than he felt for her, and whom he made his 
wife only that he might have a plausible pretext for 
frequenting the place where his mind incessantly dwelt. 
After his marriage he became so bold and so familiar 
in the family of the Countess of Aranda that no more 
distrust was entertained of him than if he had been a 
woman. Though he was then but twenty-two years old, 
he was so prudent that the countess communicated all 
her affairs to him, and commanded her daughter and her 
son to converse with him and follow all his advice. Hav- 
ing gained this capital point, he conducted himself so 
discreetly and with such address that even she whom he 
loved never suspected it. As she was very fond of 
Amadour's wife, she had such confidence in the husband 

First day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 75 

that she concealed nothing from him, and even declared 
to him all the love she felt for the son of the Fortunate 
Infante ; and Amadour, whose views were all directed to 
gaining her entirely, talked to her incessantly of the 
young prince ; for he cared not what was the subject on 
which he spoke to her, provided he could hold her long 
in conversation. 

He had hardly been a month married when he was 
obliged to go to the wars again, and it was more than 
two years before he could return to his wife, who all the 
while continued to reside where she had been brought 
up. He wrote frequently to her in the interval ; but the 
chief part of his letters consisted of compliments to 
Florida, who on her part failed not to return them, and 
often even wrote with her own hand some pretty phrase 
in Aventurada's letters. This was quite enough to in- 
duce the husband to write frequently to his wife ; yet in 
all this Florida knew nothing but that she loved him like 
a brother. Amadour went and came several times, and 
during five years he saw Florida not more than two 
months altogether. Yet, in spite of distance and long 
absence, his love not only remained in full force, but even 
grew stronger. 

At last Amadour, coming to see his wife, found the 
countess far away from the court. The king had gone 
into Andalusia, and had taken with him the young Count 
of Aranda, who was already beginning to bear arms, and 
the countess had retired to a country-house of hers on 
the frontier of Aragon and Navarre. She was very 
glad of the arrival of Amadour, whom she had not seen 
for nearly three years. He was welcomed by every- 
body, and the countess commanded that he should be 
treated as her own son. When he was with her, she 
consulted him on all the affairs of her house, and did just 


as he advised. In fact, his influence in the family was 
unbounded ; and so strong was the belief in his discern- 
ment that he was trusted on all occasions as though he 
had been a saint or an angel. As for Florida, who loved 
Aventurada, and had no suspicion of her husband's in- 
tentions, she testified her affection for him without 
reserve. Her heart being free from passion, she felt 
much pleasure in his society, but she felt nothing more. 
He, on the other hand, found it a very hard task to evade 
the penetration of those who knew by experience the 
difference between the looks of a man who loves and of 
one who does not love ; for when Florida talked familiarly 
with him in her frank simplicity, the hidden fire in his 
heart blazed up so violently that he could not help feel- 
ing it in his face, and letting some sparks from it escape 
from his eyes. 

To baffle observation, therefore, he entered into an 
intrigue with a lady named Paulina, who was considered 
in her time so beautiful that few men saw her and es- 
caped her fascinations. Paulina being aware how Ama- 
dour had made love in Barcelona and Perpignan,and won 
the hearts of the handsomest ladies in the country, 
especially that of a certain Countess of Palamos, who 
was reputed the finest woman in all Spain, told him one 
day that she pitied him for having, after so many good 
fortunes, married a wife so ugly as his own. Amadour, 
who well knew that she had a mind to supply his wants, 
talked to her in the most engaging terms he could use, 
hoping to conceal a truth from her by making her be- 
lieve a falsehood. As she had experience in love, she 
did not content herself with words, and plainly perceiv- 
ing that Amadour's heart was not her own, she made no 
doubt that he wanted to use her as a stalking-horse. 
With this sufipicion in her mind, she observed hia> w 

First Jay.l QUEEN OF NA VARRE. yy 

narrowly that not a single glance of his eyes escaped 
her; but he managed, though with the utmost difficulty, 
to regulate them so well that she could never get beyond 
conjectures. Florida, who had no notion of the nature 
of Amadour's feelings towards her, used to speak to him 
so familiarly before Paulina that he could hardly prevent 
his eyes from following the movements of his heart. To 
prevent bad consequences, one day, as Florida and he 
were talking together at a window, he said to her, " My 
dear, I beseech you to advise me which of the two is 
better, to speak or to die ? " 

" I shall always advise my friends to speak," she re- 
plied, without hesitation ; " for there are few words 
which cannot be remedied : but from death there is no 

" You promise me, then, that not only you will not be 
angry at what I want to tell you, but even that you will 
not give way to surprise until I have laid my whole 
mind open to you ? " 

" Say what you please," replied Florida, " for if you 
surprise me there is no one who can reassure me." 

" Two reasons, madam, have hindered me hitherto 
from declaring the strong passion I feel for you : one is, 
that I wished to make it known to you by long services, 
and the other, that I was afraid you would regard it as a 
great vanity that a simple gentleman like myself should 
raise his desires so high. Even though my birth were as 
illustrious as your own, a heart so true as yours would 
take it ill that any other than he on whom you have be- 
stowed it, the son of the Fortunate Infante, should talk 
to you of love. But, madam, as in war necessity often 
compels the belligerent to destroy his own property, and 
ruin his standing crops that the enemy may not profit by 
them, so I venture to forestall the fruit which I hoped 


to gather in time, lest your enemies and mine profit by 
our loss. Know, madam, that from the first moment I 
had the honour of seeing you, I so wholly consecrated my- 
self to your service, though you were very young, that I 
have forgotten nothing whereby I could hope to acquire 
your good grace. It was to that end alone that I mar- 
ried her whom I thought you loved best ; and knowing 
the love you bore to the son of the Fortunate Infante, I 
took pains to serve him and be about him ; in short, 
whatever I thought could please you, I have tried with 
all my might to do. You see that I have had the good for- 
tune to win the esteem of the countess your mother, of 
the count your brother, and of all those whom you love, 
and that I am regarded here not as a servant, but as a 
son of the family. All the pains I have taken for five 
years have had no other object than to procure me the 
happiness of passing my whole life with you. I crave no 
favour or pleasure of you which is not consistent with 
virtue. I know that I cannot wed you, and if I could I 
would not do so to the prejudice of the love you bear to 
him whom I would gladly see as your husband. To love 
you with a criminal love, like those who presume to 
think that a lady's dishonour should be the recompense 
of their long services, is a thought I am so far from en- 
tertaining, that I would rather see you dead than know 
that you were less worthy of love, and that your virtue 
should suffer the least blemish for the sake of any pleas- 
ure whatever to myself. I ask but one thing of you in 
recompense for my long services, and that is, that you 
will deign to become a mistress so loyal as never to re- 
move me from your good grace, but let me continue on 
my present footing, and trust in me more than in anyone 
besides. Furthermore, madam, do me the honour to be 
well assured that, be the matter what it may, should you 

First (fay.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. j^ 

have need of the Hfe of a gentleman, you may count on 
mine, which I would sacrifice for you right gladly. I 
beseech you to believe, likewise, madam, that whatever 
I shall do that is honourable and virtuous shall be done 
for love of you. If, for sake of ladies inferior to you, I 
have done things which have been thought well of, what 
shall I not do for a mistress like you ? Things which I 
found difficult or impossible will seem easy to me. But 
if you will not permit me to be wholly devoted to you, 
my resolution is to forsake the career of arms, and re- 
nounce the virtue which shall not have helped me at 
need. I entreat you, then, madam, to grant me the just 
grace which I ask, and you cannot refuse in conscience 
and with honour." 

Florida changed colour at a speech so novel to her. 
Surprise made her cast down her eyes ; nevertheless, her 
good sense prompted her to reply, " Does it need so long 
an harangue, Amadour, to ask of me what you have 
already ? I fear so much that, under your seemingly 
courteous and modest language, there is some lurking 
mischief to deceive my unpractised youth, that I know 
not how to reply to you. Were I to reject the virtuous 
friendship you offer me, I should do contrary to what I 
have done hitherto ; for you are the person in whom I 
have reposed most confidence. My conscience and my 
honour do not revolt either against your request or 
against the love I bear to the son of the Fortunate In- 
fante, since it rests on marriage, to which you do not 
aspire. There is nothing, then, to hinder me from re- 
plying in accordance with your desires, except a fear I 
have in my heart, proceeding from the little occasion yoH 
have for speaking to me as you do ; for if you already 
have what you ask, how comes it that you ask for it 
again with so much eagerness ? " 


" You speak very prudently madam," replied Amadour, 
who had his answer ready, " and you do me so much 
honour and so much justice in putting the confidence 
in me you say, that if I were not content with such a 
blessing, I were unworthy of all others. Rut consider, 
madam, that he who wants to build a durable edifice 
must begin by laying a good and solid foundation. As 
I desire to remain for ever in your service, I think not 
only of the means of being near you, but also of hin- 
dering my attachment to you from being perceived. 
Though this attachment, madam, is quite pure, yet those 
who do not know the hearts of lovers often judge ill of 
them, and this gives occasion for scandal as much as if 
their conjectures were well founded. What makes me 
speak of this is, that Paulina, who knows well that I 
cannot love her, suspects me so much that wherever I 
am she has her eyes continually upon me. When you 
speak to me before her with so much kindness, I am so 
much afraid of making some gesture on which she may 
rest a surmise that I fall into the very thing I wish to 
avoid. I am therefore constrained, madam, to request 
you will not for the future address me so suddenly be- 
fore her, or before those whom you know to be as mali- 
cious as she is, for I would rather die than that any creat- 
ure living should perceive it. If your honour was less 
dear to me, I should not have been in haste to say this 
to you, since I am so happy in the love and the con- 
fidence you manifest towards me, that I desire nothing 
more than their continuance." 

Florida was so gratified that she could hardly con- 
tain herself, and thenceforth she felt in her heart emo- 
tions that were new to her. " Virtue and good breeding 
reply for me," she said, " and grant you what you re- 

First day\ QUEEN OF NAVARRK. %\ 

That Amadour was transported with joy will not be 
doubted by any who love. Florida followed his advice bet- 
ter than he could have wished ; for as she was timid not 
only in presence of Paulina, but everywhere else too, she 
no longer sought his society as she had been used to do. 
She even disapproved of his intercourse with Paulina, 
who seemed to her so handsome that she could not 
believe he did not love her. Florida vented her grief 
with Aventurada, who was beginning to be very jealous 
of her husband and Paulina. She poured out her lamen- 
tations to Florida, who, being sick of the same distemper, 
consoled her as well as she could. 

Amadour, soon perceiving the change in Florida's 
conduct, believed not only that she was reserved, as he 
liad advised her to be, but even that she had conceived 
unfavourable sentiments with regard to him. One day, 
as he was escorting her home from a convent where she 
had heard vespers, " What sort of countenance do you 
show me, madam .'* " he said. 

" Such as I believe you wish me to show," she re- 

Suspecting the truth then, he continued, " I have 
taken such means, madam, that Paulma no longer sus- 
pects you." 

" You could not do better for yourself and for me," 
she replied ; " for while doing yourself pleasure, you do 
me honour." 

Amadour, inferring from this that she believed he 
took pleasure in talking with Paulina, was so incensed 
that he could not help saying in anger, " You begin 
betimes, madam, to make me suffer. I am more to be 
pitied than blamed, and the most cruel mortification I 
have ever endured in my life is the painful necessity I 
am under of speaking to a woman I do not love. Since 


you put a bad interpretation on what I have done for 
your service, I will never speak more to Paulina, happen 
what may. To hide my sorrow as I have hidden my 
joy, I will retire to some place in the neighbourhood, and 
wait there till your caprice has passed away. But I 
hope I shall receive news from my captain, and be 
obliged to return to the army, where I will remain so long 
as will prove to you, I hope, that nothing keeps me here 
but you." 

So saying, he went away without awaiting her reply, 
which caused Florida an anxiety it is impossible to ex- 
press. Thus love began to make its strength felt 
through its opposite. Finding on reflection that she had 
been wrong, Florida wrote to Amadour, begging him to 
return, which he did after his anger had somewhat sub- 
sided. I cannot tell you in detail what they said to each 
other to destroy these prejudices of jealousy; but the 
result was that he justified himself so well that she prom- 
ised not only that she would never believe he loved 
Paulina, but that she would remain convinced that it was 
a most cruel martvrdom for him to speak to her, or any 
other woman, except only with a view to render her 

After love had dissipated this cloud, and when the 
lovers were beginning to take more pleasure than ever 
in each other's society, news came that the King of 
Spain was sending his whole army to Salces. Amadour, 
whose custom it was to be among the first to join the 
royal standards, would not miss this new opportunity of 
acquiring glory ; but it must be owned that he set out 
with unwonted regret, as well on account of the pleasure 
he lost, as because he was afraid of finding a change on 
his "return. He reflected that Florida was now fifteen, 
that many princes and great lords were seeking hei 

First day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. : g;^ 

hand, and that if she married during his absence he 
would have no more opportunity of seeing her, unless 
the Countess of Aranda should give her Aventurada for 
her companion. Accordingly, he managed so adroitly 
that the countess and Florida both promised him that, 
wherever the latter resided after her marriage, his wife 
should never leave her ; and as there was a talk then of 
her being married in Portugal, it was resolved that Aven- 
turada should accompany her to that country. Upon 
this assurance Amadour took his departure, not without 
extreme regret, and left his wife with the countess. 

Florida, left lonely by her lover's departure, lived in 
such a manner as she hoped would gain for her the 
reputation of the most perfect virtue, and make the 
whole world confess that she merited such a servant as 
Amadour. As for him, on arriving at Barcelona, he 
was cordially welcomed by the ladies ; but they found 
him so changed that they never could have believed that 
marriage could have such an effect upon a man. In fact, 
he was no longer the same ; he was even vexed at the 
sight of what he formerly desired ; and the Countess of 
Palamos, of whom he had been so enamoured, could 
never find means to make him even visit her. Being 
impatient to reach the spot where honour was to be 
gained, he made as short a stay as possible in Barcelona. 
He was no sooner arrived at Salces than war broke out 
with great fury between the two kings. I will not enter 
into details of the campaign, nor enumerate the heroic 
actions performed in it by Amadour, for then, instead of 
telling a tale, I should have to compose a great book. 
It is enough to say that his renown overtopped that of 
all his comrades in arms. The Duke of Nagyeres, who 
commanded two thousand men, arrived at Perpignan, 
and took Amadour for his lieutenant. He did his duty 


SO well with his little corps that in every skirmish no 
other cry was heard than that of Nagyeres ! 

Now the King of Tunis, who had long been at war 
with the Spaniards, learning that Spain and France were 
waging mutual hostilities about Perpignan and Nar- 
bonne, thought it a good opportunity to harass the King 
of Spain, and sent a great number of ships to pillage 
and destroy every ill-guarded point they found on the 
coasts of Spain. The people of Barcelona, seeing so 
many strange sail pass by, sent word to the viceroy, who 
was then at Salces, and who immediately despatched the 
Duke of Nagyeres to Palamos. The Barbarians, finding 
the place so well defended, made a feint of sheering off ; 
but they returned in the night, and landed so many men 
that the Duke of Nagyeres, who had let himself be sur- 
prised, was taken prisoner. Amadour, who was very 
vigilant, hearing the noise, assembled instantly as many 
of his men as he could, and made so stout a resistance 
that the enemy, however superior in numbers, were for 
a long time held at bay. But at last, learning that the 
Duke of Nagyeres was a prisoner, and that the Turks 
were resolved to burn Palamos and the house in which 
he withstood them, he thought it better to surrender 
than to cause the loss of those who had followed him. 
Besides, by paying for his ransom, he expected to see 
Florida again. He surrendered then to a Turk named 
Dorlin, Viceroy of Tunis, who presented him to his 
master, in whose service he remained nearly two years, 
honoured and well treated, but still better guarded ; for, 
having him in their hands, the Turks thought they had 
the Achilles of all the Spains. 

The news of this event having reached Spain, the 
relations of the Duke of Nagyeres were greatly affected 
at his disaster ; but those who had the glory of the 

First day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 85 

country at heart thought the loss of Amadour still more 
grievous. It became known to the Countess of Aranda, 
in whose house poor Aventurada lay dangerously ill. 
The countess, who had great misgivings as to the tender 
feelings which Amadour entertained for her daughter, 
but concealed or tried to suppress them, in considera- 
tion of the virtues which she recognized in him, called 
her daughter aside to communicate this painful intelli- 
gence to her. Florida, who could dissemble well, said it 
was a great loss for their whole house, and that, above 
all, she pitied his poor wife, who, to make the matter 
worse, was on her sick bed ; but seeing that her mother 
wept much, she let fall a few tears to keep her company, 
for fear that the feint should be discovered by being 
overdone. The countess often talked with her again on 
the subject, but could never draw from her any indica- 
tion on which she could form a definite conclusion. I 
will say nothing of the pilgrimages, prayers, orisons, and 
fasts which Florida regularly performed for Amadour's 
safety. Immediately on his reaching Tunis, he sent an 
express to Florida to acquaint her that he was in good 
health, and full of hope that he should see her again, 
which was a great consolation to her. In return, she 
corresponded with him so diligently that Amadour had 
not leisure to grow impatient. 

At this period the countess received orders to repair 
to Saragossa, where the king was. The young Duke of 
Cardona was there, and bestirred himself so effectually 
with the king and the queen that they begged the count- 
ess to conclude the marriage between him and Florida. 
The countess, who neither could nor would refuse their 
majesties anything, consented to it the more willingly as 
she believed that her daughter would at those years have 
no other will than hers. All being settled, she told her 


daughter she had chosen for her the match she thought 
would be most advantageous ; and Florida submitted, 
seeing no room was left her for deliberation, the business 
being already settled. To make matters worse, she heard 
that the Fortunate Infante was at the point of death. 
She never suffered the least evidence of her mortification 
to escape in presence of her mother or anyone else ; 
and so strongly did she conceal her feelings, that instead 
of shedding tears she was seized with a bleeding at the 
nose so copious as to endanger her life. By way of re- 
establishing her health, she married the man she would 
wiU'Tigly have exchanged for death. After her marriage 
she went with her husband to the duchy of Cardona, 
and took with her Aventurada, whom she acquainted, in 
confidence, with her mother's harshness towards her, and 
her regret for the loss of the Fortunate Infante ; but 
with regard to Amadour, she spoke of him only to con- 
sole his wife. Resolutely setting God and honour before 
her eves, she so well concealed her sorrow that none of 
those who were most intimate with her ever perceived 
that she disliked her husband. 

For a long time did she continue this life, which was 
hardly better than death. She failed not to make all 
known to Amadour, who, knowing the greatness of her 
heart, and how she had loved the Fortunate Infante, 
thought it impossible she could live long, and mourned 
for her as one whom he looked upon as worse than dead. 
This affliction augmented that under which he already 
laboured. Gladly would he have been a slave all his life, 
so i lorida had found a husband after her own heart ; 
for the thought of his mistress's sorrows made him forget 
his own. Meanwhile, he learned from a friend he had 
made at the court of Tunis, that the king was resolved 
to give him his choice, either to renounce his faith or be 

First day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 87 

impaled, for he wished to keep him in his service, if he 
could make a good Turk of him. To prevent this, Ama- 
dour prevailed upon his master to let him go upon his 
parole without speaking to the king ; and his ransom was 
set so high that the Turk calculated that a man who had 
so little wealth could never raise the amount. 

On his return to the court of Spain he made but a 
short stay there, and went away to seek his ransom in 
the purses of his friends. He went straight to Barcelona, 
whither the young Duke of Cardona, his mother, and 
Florida, were gone on some business. Aventurada was 
no sooner apprised of her husband's return than she im- 
parted the news to Florida, who rejoiced at it as if for 
her sake. But for fear lest the joy of again beholding 
Amadour should produce a change in her countenance, 
which might be noticed by those who did not know her, 
and therefore would misjudge her, she placed herself at 
a window, in order to catch sight of him at a distance, 
and the moment she perceived him, running down a 
staircase so dark that it was impossible to discern if she 
changed colour, she embraced him, took him up to her 
chamber, and then presented him to her mother-in-law, 
who had never seen him. He had not been there two 
days before he was as great a favourite as he had been 
in the house of the Countess of Aranda. I will say noth- 
ing of the conversation between Florida and Amadour, 
nor all she told him of the afflictions she had incurred 
during his absence. After many tears wrung from her 
eyes by her grief at having married contrary to her in- 
clination, and at having lost him whom she loved so pas- 
sionately, and whom she never hoped to see again, she 
resolved to console herself with the love and confidence 
she had in Amadour. However, she durst not avow her 
intentions ; but Amadour, who suspected them, lost 


neither time nor opportunity to make known to her how 
much he loved her. 

Just when Florida could hardly refrain from advanc- 
ing Amadour from the condition of an expectant to that 
of a favoured lover, a distressing and very inopportune 
accident occurred. The king summoned Amadour to 
the court upon an affair of importance. His wife was 
so shocked by this news that she fainted, and falling down 
a flight of stairs, hurt herself so much that she never 
recovered. Florida, whom her death bereaved of all her 
consolation, was as much afitiicted as one who had lost 
all her good friends and relations. Amadour was incon- 
solable, for, on the one hand he lost one of the best of 
wives, and, on the other hand, the means of being again 
with Florida ; and so overwhelming was his grief that he 
was near dying suddenly. The old Duchess of Cardona 
was constantly at his bedside, repeating the arguments 
of the philosophers to console him ; but it was of no avail, 
for if his grief for the dead was great, his love for the 
living made him a martyr. 

Amadour's wife being interred, and the king's orders 
being pressing, he could find no pretext to prolong his 
stay ; which so augmented his anguish that he had like 
to lose his senses. Florida, who, thinking to console 
him, was his very desolation, passed a whole afternoon 
in conversing with him in the most gracious manner, 
thinking to comfort him by the assurance that she would 
always find means to see him, oftener than he supposed. 
As he was to depart on the following day, and was so 
weak that he could not quit his bed, he entreated her to 
come again in the evening to see him, after everyone 
else had left him. She promised to do so, not knowing 
that excessive love knows no restraint of reason ; whilst 
he, despairing for the future of seeing her whom he had 

First day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 8g 

SO long loved, and of whom he had never had but what 
you have seen, was so racked by his love and his despair 
that he resolved to play, as it were, at double or quits — 
that is to say, to win or lose all, and to pay himself in 
one hour for what he thought he had merited. He had 
his bed hung with such good curtains that he could not 
be seen by persons in the room, and he complained more 
than usual, so that everybody in the house thought he 
had not four-and-twenty hours to live. 

After everyone else had visited him in the evening 
Florida came, at the request of her husband himself, to 
see him, her mind made up to console him by a declara- 
tion of her affection, and to tell him, without disguise or 
reserve, that she was resolved to love him as much as 
honour could allow her. Seated beside the head of his 
bed, she began her consolations by weeping with him ; 
seeing which, Amadour fancied that in this great agitation 
of her mind he could the more easily accomplish his 
purpose, and he sat up in his bed. Florida, thinking he 
was too weak to do this, offered to prevent him. " Must 
I lose you forever.-'" he exclaimed, on his knees; and 
saying this he let himself fall into her arms like a man 
whose strength suddenly failed him. Poor Florida em- 
braced and supported him a long while, doing her best 
to comfort him ; but the remedy she applied to assuage 
his pain increased it greatly. Still counterfeiting the ap- 
pearance of one half dead, and saying not a word, he set 
himself in quest of what the honour of ladies prohibits. 
Florida, seeing his bad intention, but unable to believe 
it after the laudable language he had always addressed 
to her, asked him what he meant. Amadour, fearing to 
provoke a reply which he knew could not be other than 
chaste and virtuous, went straight to his mark without 
paymg a word. Florida's surprise was extreme, and 


choosing rather to believe that his brain was turned than 
that he had a dehbcrate design upon her virtue, she 
called aloud to a gentleman who she knew was in the 
room ; whereupon Amadour, in an agony of despair, 
threw himself back on his bed so suddenly that the gen- 
tleman thought he was dead. Florida, who had risen 
from her chair, sent the gentleman to fetch some vinegar, 
and then said to Amadour, "Are you mad, Amadour? 
What is this you have thought of doing ? " 

" Do such long services as mine merit such cruelty ? " 
replied Amadour, who had lost all reason in the violence 
of his love. 

" And where is that honour you have so often preached 
to me .-* " she retorted. 

" Ah, madam," said he, " it is impossible to love your 
honour more than I have done. As long as you were un- 
married I so well mastered my passion that you never 
were aware of it ; but now that you are married and your 
honour is shielded, what wrong do I do you in asking of 
you what belongs to me .■• For have I not won you by the 
force of my love "> The first who had your heart has .so 
little coveted your body that he deserved to lose both. He 
who possesses your body is unworthy to have your heart, 
and consequently your body even does not belong to him. 
But I have taken such pains for your sake during the 
last five or six years that you cannot but be aware, 
madam, that to me alone belong your body and your 
heart, for which I have forgotten my own. If you think 
to excuse yourself on the ground of conscience, doubt 
not that when love forces the body and the heart, sin is 
never imputed. Those even who are so infuriated as to 
kill themselves cannot sin ; for passion leaves no room 
for reason. And if the passion of love is the most in- 
tolerable of all others, and that which most blinds all the 

First day:\ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 9 1 

senses, what sin would you attribute to him who lets 
himself be led by an invincible power ? I am constrained 
to go away without the hofe of ever seeing you again. 
But if I had from you before my departure that assurance 
which my love deserves, I should be strong enough 
patiently to endure the pains of that long absence. If, 
however, you will not grant me what I ask, you will soon 
learn that your rigour has caused me to perish miserably." 
Florida, equally astonished and grieved at hearing 
such language from a man whom till then she had never 
distrusted, replied, in tears, •* Is this, Amadour, the end 
of all the virtuous speeches you have made me during my 
youth.-* Is this the honour and the conscience you have 
often counselled me to prize more than my own life } 
Have you forgotten the good examples you have given 
me of virtuous ladies who have withstood criminal love, 
and the scorn you have always expressed for the wanton } 
I cannot believe, Amadour, that you are so different from 
yourself that God, your conscience, and my honour are 
dead in you. But if what you say is true, I thank God for 
having prevented the misfortune into which I had nearly 
fallen, by causing your tongue to make known to me 
the bottom of your heart, which I have never fathomed 
till now. After losing the son of the Fortunate Infante, 
not only by my marriage, but also because I know he 
loves another, and seeing myself wedded to a man I 
cannot love in spite of all my efforts, I had resolved to 
love you with my whole heart, basing my affection on 
that virtue which I thought I discerned in you, and which 
I think I have attained through your means, which is to 
love my honour and my conscience more than my very 
life. With these laudable views I had come, Amadour, 
to lay a good foundation for the future ; but you have 
convinced me that I should have built on a drifting sand, 


or rather on loathsome mud ; and though a great part of 
the house was already built, in which I hoped perpetually 
to abide, you have knocked it all down at a blow. So never 
more expect anything of me ; and never think of speak- 
ing to me, wherever I may be, either with your tongue 
or your eyes ; and be assured that my sentiments will 
never change. I say this to you with extreme regret. 
If I had plighted you a perfect friendship, I am sure my 
heart could not have borne this rupture and lived; though, 
indeed, the amazement into which I am cast at having 
been deceived is so intense and poignant, that, if it does 
not cut short my life, it will at least render it very unhappy, 
I have no more to say but to bid you an eternal farewelL" 

I will not attempt to describe the anguish of Ama- 
dour at hearing these words. It would be impossible 
not only to depict it but even to imagine it, except for 
those who have been in a similar position. As Florida 
turned to depart, he caught her by the arm, well know- 
ing that he should lose her forever unless he removed 
the bad opinion his conduct had caused her to entertain 
of him. " It has been the longing of my whole life, 
madam," he said, with the most sanctimonious counte- 
nance he could assume, " to love a woman of virtue ; and 
as I have found few such, I wished to know if you were 
as estimable in that respect as you are for beauty ; 
whereof I am now, thanks be to God, fully convinced. 
I congratulate myself on having given my heart to such 
an assemblage of perfections ; and I entreat you, madam, 
to pardon my caprice and my audacity, since the de- 
nouement is so glorious for you, and yields me such 

Florida was beginning to have her eyes opened to 
the wiles of men ; and as she had been slow to believe 
evil where it existed, she was still slower to believe good 

rtrstday.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 93 

where it was not. " Would to God," she said, " that your 
words were true ; but I am not so ignorant but that my 
married experience shows me clearly that the force and 
infatuation of passion have made you do what you have 
done. Had God suffered me to slacken the reins, I am 
quite sure you would not have tightened them. No one 
would think of looking for virtue in that sort of way. 
But enough of this. If I too lightly gave you credit for 
some goodness, it is time I should know the truth, which 
now delivers me out of your hands." So saying, she 
left the room, and passed the whole night in tears. The 
anguish she felt from the change was so great that she 
could hardly bear it. Reason told her she should cease 
to love, but her heart told her quite another thing, and 
who can master the heart .-* Unable, then, to overcome 
her love, she resolved to cherish it as warmly as ever, 
but to suppress all tokens of it for the satisfaction of her 

Amadour went away the next day in a state of mind 
easily imagined. His great heart, however, instead of 
letting him yield to despair, suggested to him a new 
device whereby he might again see Florida and regain 
her goodwill. Taking the road then to Toledo, where 
the King of Spain was residing, he passed through the 
county of Aranda, arrived late one evening at the 
countess's mansion, and found the countess sick with 
grief at the absence of Florida. She kissed and em- 
braced Amadour as though he were her own son, both 
because she loved him, and because she suspected that 
he loved Florida. She asked news of her, and he gave 
her as much as he could, but not all true. He avowed 
the friendship which subsisted between them, which 
Florida had always concealed, begged her mother often 
to send him news of her, and to bring her soon to 


Aranda. He passed the night at the countess's, and 
continued his journey next day. 

Having despatched his business with the king, he 
joined the army, but looked so melancholy and so 
changed that the ladies and the captains with whom he 
was intimate could hardly believe he was the same man. 
He wore only black clothes, and those of a much coarser 
kind than was requisite for the mourning he wore osten- 
sibly for his wife, whose death served as a convenient 
pretext for his sadness. Amadour lived in this way for 
three or four years without returning to court. The 
Countess of Aranda, hearing that her daughter was 
piteously changed, wanted her to come back to her, but 
Florida would not ; for when she learned that Amadour 
had acquainted her mother with their mutual friendship, 
and that her mother, though so discreet and virtuous, 
had so much confidence in Amadour that she approved 
of it, she was in marvellous perplexity. On the one 
hand, she considered that if she told her mother the 
truth it might occasion mischief to Amadour, which she 
would not have done for her life, believing that she was 
quite able to punish his insolence without any help from 
her relations. On the other hand, she foresaw that, if 
she concealed his misconduct, her mother and her 
friends would oblige her to speak with him and show 
him a fair countenance, and thereby, as she feared, en- 
courage his evil intentions. However, as he was far 
away, she said nothing of what was past, and wrote to 
him when the countess desired her to do so ; but it was 
plain, from the tone of her letters, that they were written 
not from her spontaneous impulses, but in obedience to 
her mother, so that Amadour felt pain in reading them 
instead of the transports of joy with which he had for- 
merly received them. 

First day. \ QUEEIV OF NAVARRE. 95 

Having during two or three years performed so many 
fine exploits that all the paper in Spain could not con- 
tain them, he devised a grand scheme, not to regain 
Florida's heart, for he believed he had lost it wholly, but 
to vanquish his enemy, since such she declared herself. 
Setting aside reason, and even the fear of death to which 
he exposed himself, he adopted the following course. 
He made such interest with the governor-in-chief that he 
was deputed to go and report to the king respecting cer- 
tain enterprises that were in hand against Leucate ; and, 
without caring for the consequences, he communicated 
the purport of his journey to the Countess of Aranda, 
before he had mentioned it to the king. As he knew 
that Florida was with her mother, he posted to the 
countess's, under pretence of wishing to take her ad- 
vice, and sent one of his friends before him to apprise 
her of his coming, begging she would not mention it, and 
would do him the favour to speak with him at night un- 
known to everyone. The countess, very glad of this 
news, imparted it to Florida, and sent her to undress in 
her husband's room, that she might be ready when she 
should send for her after everyone was in bed. Florida, 
who had not recovered from her first fear, said nothing 
of it, however, to her mother, and went to her oratory to 
commend herself to God, and pray that He would guard 
her heart from all weakness. Remembering that Ama- 
dourhad often praised her for her beauty, which had lost 
nothing by her long illness, she chose rather to impair it 
with her own hand than to suffer it to kindle so criminal 
a fire in the heart of so worthy a man. To this end she 
took a stone, which she found opportunely, and gave her- 
self such a great blow with it on the face that her mouth, 
eyes, and nose were quite disfigured. That it might not 
appear she had done it designedly, when the countess 


sent for her she let herself fall on coming out of her or- 
atory. The countess hearing her cries hurried to her, 
and found her in that sad condition. Florida raised her- 
self up and told her mother she had struck her face 
against a great stone. Her wounds were immediately 
dressed and her face bandaged, after which her mother 
sent her to her own chamber, and begged her to entertain 
Amadour, who was in her cabinet, until she had got rid 
of her company. Florida obeyed, supposing that Ama- 
dour had some one with him : but when she found herself 
alone with him, and the door closed, she was as much 
vexed as Amadour was delighted, fancying that he should 
achieve, by fair means or by force, what he had so long 

After a brief conversation, finding her sentiments un- 
changed, and hearing from her lips a protestation that, 
though it were to cost her her life, she would never 
swerve from the principles she had professed at their 
last meeting, he exclaimed, desperately, " By God, Flor- 
ida, your scruples shall not deprive me of the fruit of 
my toils. Since love, patience, and entreaties are of no 
avail, I will employ force to have that without which I 
should perish." 

Amadour's visage and his eyes were so changed that 
the handsomest complexion in the world was become red 
as fire, and the mildest and most agreeable aspect so 
horrible and furious that it seemed as though the fire in 
his heart blazed out through his eyes. In his rage he 
had seized both Florida's delicate hands in his strong 
gripe, and finding herself deprived of all means of defence 
or flight, she thought the only chance left her was to try 
if his former love was so extinct that it could not disarm 
his cruelty. " If I must now look upon you as an enemy, 
Amadour," she said, " I conjure you, by the virtuous love 

First day. \ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. g 7 

with which I formerly believed your heart was animated, 
at least to hear me before you do ine violence. What 
can possess you, Amadour," she said, seeing that he 
listened to her, " to desire a thing that can give you no 
pleasure, and would overwhelm me with grief ? You have 
so well known my sentiments during my youth and my 
prime, which might have served as an excuse for your 
passion, that I wonder how, at my present age, and ugly 
as you see I am, you seek for that which you know you 
cannot find. I am sure you do not doubt that my sen- 
timents are still the same, and, consequently, that 
nothing but violence can enable you to obtain your 
wishes. Look at the state of my face, forget the beauty 
you have seen in it, and you will lose all desire to ap- 
proach me. If there is any remnant of love in your 
heart, it is impossible but that pity shall prevail over 
your rage. It is to your pity, and to the virtue of which 
you have given me so many proofs, that I appeal for 
mercy. Do not destroy my peace of mind, and make no 
attempt upon my honour, which, in accordance with 
your counsel, I am resolved to preserve. If the love 
you had for me has degenerated into hate, and you 
design from vindictiveness rather than affection to make 
me the most miserable woman on earth, I declare to you 
that it shall not be so, and that you will force me to 
complain openly of your vicious conduct to her who is 
so prejudiced in your favour. If you reduce me to this 
extremity, consider that your life is not safe." 

" If I must die," replied Amadour, " a moment will put 
an end to all my troubles ; but the disfigurement of your 
face, which I believe is your own work, shall not hinder 
me from doing what I am resolved ; for though I could 
have nothing of you but your bones, I would have them 
dose to me." y 


Finding that entreaties, arguments, and tears were 
useless, Florida had recourse to what she feared as much 
as the loss of life, and screamed out as loudly as she 
could to her mother. The countess, on hearing her 
cries, at once suspected the truth, and hastened to her 
with the utmost promptitude. Amadour, who was not so 
near dying as he said, let go his hold so quickly that the 
countess, on opening the cabinet, found him at the door, 
and Florida far enough away from him. " What is the 
matter, Amadour .'' " said the countess. "Tell me the 
truth." Amadour, who was prepared beforehand, and 
was never at a loss for an expedient at need, answered, 
with a pale and woebegone countenance, "Alas ! madam, 
I no longer recognize Florida. Never was man more 
surprised than I am. I thought, as I told you, that I 
had some share in her goodwill, but now I see plainly I 
have no longer any. Methinks, madarn, that whilst she 
lived with you she was neither less discreet nor less vir- 
tuous than she is now ; but she had no squeams of con- 
science to hinder her from talking to people and looking 
them in the face. I wanted to look at her, but she 
would not allow it. Seeing this, I thought I must be in 
a dream or a trance, and I asked leave to kiss her hand, 
according to the custom of the country, but she abso- 
lutely refused it. It is true, madam, I have done wrong, 
and I crave your pardon for it, in taking her hand and 
kissing it in a manner by force. I asked nothing more 
of her, but I see plainly that she is resolved upon my 
death, and that, I believe, is why she called you. Per- 
haps she was afraid I had some other design upon her. 
Be that as it may, madam, I acknowledge I was wrong ; 
for though she ought to love all your good servants, such 
is my ill-luck, that I have no part in her goodwill. My 
heart will not change for all that, with regard either ta 


First day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 


her or to you ; and I entreat you, madam, to let me re- 
tain your goodwill, since I have lost hers without deserv- 

nig it. 

The countess, who partly believed and partly doubted, 
asked her why she had called out so loudly. Florida replied 
that she did so because she was frightened. The count- 
ess asked her many other questions, and never got any 
but the same reply; for having escaped from her enemy, 
Florida thought him sufficiently punished by the disap- 
pointment. After the countess had conversed a long 
time with Amadour, she let him talk again with Florida 
in her presence, in order to see how he would look ; but 
he said little to her, and contented himself with thank- 
ing her for not having told her mother, and begging 
her that at least, since he was banished from her heart, 
another might not profit by his disgrace. "If I could 
have defoiided myself in any other way," said Florida, 
■' all would have passed between our two selves. You 
shall be let off with this, unless you force me to do 
worse. Do not be afraid that I shall ever love ; for 
since I have been deceived in my judgment of a heart 
which I thought was full of virtue, I shall never believe 
that a man exists who is worthy to be trusted. This 
misfortune will make me banish for ever from my breast 
all passions which love can occasion." So saying, she 
took leave of him. 

Her mother, who had been watching them, could 
come to no conclusion, except that she saw clearly that 
her daughter had no longer any friendship for Amadour. 
She thought this unreasonable, and that it was enough 
for herself to like anyone to make Florida conceive an 
aversion for that person. From that moment she was 
so displeased with her that for seven years she never 
spoke to her but with asperity, and all this at the solici- 


tation of Amadour. Florida, who had formerly shunned 
nothing so much as her husband's presence, resolved to 
pass all her life by his side, to avoid her mother's harsh- 
ness ; but seeing that nothing succeeded with her, she 
made up her mind to deceive Amadour. To this end 
she pretended to be more tractable, and advised him to 
attach himself to a lady to whom she said she had 
spoken of their mutual love. This lady, who was in the 
queen's household, and whose name was Loretta, de- 
lighted at having made such a conquest, was so little 
mistress of her transports that the affair became noised 
abroad. The Countess of Aranda herself, being at 
court, became aware of it, and afterwards treated Florida 
with more gentleness. Loretta's husband, who was a 
captain, and one of the King of Spain's great governors, 
was so incensed that he was resolved to kill Amadour 
at all hazards; but Florida, who heard of this, and, in 
spite of herself, still loved Amadour, instantly gave him 
warning. Eager as he was to return to her, he replied 
that if she would grant him every day three hours 
conversation, he would never speak another word to 
Loretta ; but she would do nothing of the sort. " Since, 
then, you do not wish me to live," said Amadour, " why 
would you hinder me from dying, unless you hope to 
make me suffer more in living than the pain of a thou- 
sand deaths ? Let death fly me as it will, I will seek it, 
so that at last I shall find it, and then only I shall be at 

Meanwhile, news arrived that the King of Grenada 
had begun hostilities against the King of Spain, which 
obliged the king to send his son thither with the Con- 
stable of Castile and the Duke of Alva, two old and sage 
lords. The Duke of Cardona and the Count of Aranda 
desired to take part in the campaign, and begged the 

First day?^ Q UEEN OF JVA VA RRE. I o \ 

king to give them some command. The king gave them 
appointments suitable to their quality, and desired they 
should act under the advice of Amadour, who performed 
during the war such astonishing acts as testified as 
much desperation as valour. His desperate rashness at 
last cost him his life. The Moors, having offered battle, 
gave way before the charge of the Spaniards, and made 
a feint of flying, in order to draw on the Christian army 
to pursue them. Their stratagem succeeded. The old 
Constable and the Duke of Alva, suspecting it, detained 
the Prince of Spain against his will, and hindered him 
from passing the river ; but the Count of Aranda and 
the Duke of Cardona crossed it in defiance of orders to 
the contrary. The Moors, finding themselves pursued 
only by a small body, wheeled round. The Duke of 
Cardona was killed with a scimitar, and the Count of 
Aranda was so dangerously wounded that he was left 
for dead on the field. Amaduur coming up, cleft his way 
through the melee with such fury that one would have 
said he v^^as a maniac, and had the bodies of the duke 
and the count carried to the camp of the prince, who 
regretted them as if they had been his own brothers. 
On examining their wounds, it was found that the 
Count of Aranda was not dead. He was laid on a litter 
and carried home, where he lay ill for a long time. The 
body of the young duke was transported to Cardona. 
After rescuing the two bodies, Amadour took so little 
care of his own person that he let himself be surrounded 
by a great number of Moors. Knowing, then, that if ht 
fell into the hands of the King of Grenada he should die 
a cruel death, unless he renounced the Christian religion, 
he resolved not to give his enemies the glory of his 
death or his capture, but to surrender up liis body and 
his soul to God , and kissing the cross of his sword, he 



plunged it into his body with such force that no second 
blow was needed. 

Thus died poor Amadour, as much regretted as his 
virtues deserved. The news instantly spread from 
mouth to mouth all over Spain. Florida, who was then 
at Barcelona, where her husband had formerly directed 
that he should be buried, after having caused his obse- 
quies to be performed with pomp, retired into the con> 
vent of Jesus, without saying a word to her mother or 
her mother-in-law, taking for her spouse and lover Him 
vv^ho had delivered her from a love so violent as that of 
Amadour, and from the distress caused her by the society 
of such a husband. Her sole subsequent occupation 
and care was to love God so perfectly that, after having 
been a long time a nun, she surrendered up her soul to 
him with the joy with which a bride meets her hus- 

* " We liave every reason to believe that this novel was sug- 
gested to the Queen of Navarre by some actual occurrence at the 
court of Charles VIII. and Louis XII. Whilst disguising the 
names of the principal actors, the princess has yet intermingled real 
events with her narrative. The beginning of the novel might even 
lead us to surmise that Margaret alludes in it to something in which 
she \va.s personally concerned. The Countess of Aranda, left a 
very young widow, with a son and daughter, is very like Louise of 
Savoy and her two children. This, however, is a mere conjecture 
of ours, on which we by no means insist. 

" For those who would like to attempt the solution of this little 
historical problem, we subjoin a list of some facts which occurred 
at the period in which the Queen of Navarre places her story. 

" Taking of Salces by the French in 1496. Don Henry of 
Aragon, Count of Ribagorce, was then Viceroy of Catalonia, and 
Don Henrv Henriquez Governor of Rousillon. — Truce between 
France and Spain in 1497. — Revolt at Grenada in 1499. — Ik 1500, 
revolt of the Moors in the Alpujarras ; King Ferdinand marches 
against them in person. — In 1501, defeat of the Spaniards, fn which 
were killed Don Alfonso de Aguilar, Pedro de Sandoval, &c., &c. 


First day.} QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 103 

I am afraid, ladies, you have found this long story 
tedious; but it would have been still longer if I had 
given it as it was told to me. Imitate Florida's virtues, 
ladies, but be not so cruel ; and never esteem men so 
highly, lest, when you are undeceived, you bring upon 
them a miserable death, and a life of sorrow upon your 

" Do you not think," said Parlamente, turning to Hir- 
can, " that this lady was tried to the utmost, and that 
she resisted virtuously ? " 

" No," he replied ; " for the least resistance a woman 
can decently make is to cry out. But what would she 
have done if she had been in a place where she could not 
be heard ? Besides, if Amadour had not been more 
swayed by fear than by love, he would not so easily have 
given up. So I still maintain that no man ever loved 
heartily, and was loved in return, who did not obtain what 
he sought if he went the right way about it. I must, 

The Duke of Najera is sent against him. — In 1503 a Moorish fleet, 
consisting of ten Jlnsies, ravages the coasts of Catalonia. That 
same year King Ferdinand burns Leucate. — In 1513, the King of 
Spain, to appease the feud existing between the Count of Riba- 
gorce and the Count of Aranda, commissions Father Juan de 
Estuniga, Provincial of the Order of St. Francis, to effect an agree- 
ment between them by means of a marriage between the eldest 
daughter of Count Aranda and the eldest son of the Count of Riba- 
gorce. The latter refuses, and is banished the realm. As for the 
son of the Fortunate Infante, this must be Don Alfonso of Aragon, 
Count of Ribagorce, Duke of Segovia, sole male heir of the house 
of Castile, proposed in 1506 as husband for Jane the Crazed. His 
father, Henry of Aragon, Duke of vSegovia, was surnamed the 
Infattie of Fortune, because he was born in 1445, after the death 
of his father. 

"Such are the events which the Queen of Navarre has mixed 
up with a narrative m which she declares that she has changed 
names, places, and countries.'''' — Bibliophiles Fran^ais. 


however, applaud Amadour for having in part done his 

" Duty ? " said Oisille. " Do you think that a servant 
does his duty in offering violence to his mistress, to whom 
he owes all respect and obedience ? " 

" When our mistresses, madam," replied Saffrendent, 
" hold their rank in chamber or hall, seated at their ease 
as our judges, we are on our knees before them ; we 
timidly lead them out to dance, and serve them with so 
much diligence that we anticipate their commands ; we 
have so much fear of offending them, and so much 
desire to serve them well, that no one can look upon 
us without compassion. We are often thought more 
witless than brutes, and people praise the proud spirit 
of our ladies, who look so imperious, and speak with 
so much good breeding, that they make themselves 
feared, loved, and esteemed by those who see only the 
outside. But in private, where there is no other judge 
than love, we know very well that they are women and 
we are men. The name of mistress is then changed to 
that of friend, and he who was a servant in public 
becomes a friend in a tete-d-tete. Thence comes the old 
proverb : — 

Well to serve and loyal to be, 
Raiseth a servant to mastery. 

Of honour they have as much as men, who can give it 
them and take it away ; and as they see we suffer with 
patience, it is just that they should indemnify us when 
they can do so without damage to their honour." 

" You do not speak," said Longarine, " of that true 
honour which is the most perfect contentment that can be 
had in this world. Though all the world believed me a 
virtuous woman, and I alone knew the contrary, the 
praises of others would but increase my shame and my 

First day. ] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 1 05 

secret confusion. On the other hand, were all mankind 
to condemn me, whilst my conscience was free from all 
reproach, I should derive a sort of pleasure from calumny, 
so true it is that virtue is never wholly unhappy." 

"Though you have left nothing to say," observed 
Geburon, " you will permit me to remark that I regard 
Amadour as the most worthy and most virtuous of cav- 
aliers. Though he has been given a feigned name, I 
think, nevertheless, that I recognize him ; but since 
others have not named him, neither will I. I will only 
say thi^t if he is the same as I suppose, never was his 
heart susceptible of fear, or exempt from love." 

" It strikes me," said Oisille, " that this day has passed 
so agreeably that, if this continues, our time will seem 
very short. The sun is already low, and vespers have 
been rung at the Abbey this long time. I did not tell 
you so before, because I was less desirous to hear vespers 
than to know the end of the story." 

Hereupon everybody rose, and proceeding to the 
abbey they found that the monks had been waiting for 
them for more than an hour. After vespers they supped. 
The evening was not passed without discussing the tales 
that had been told in the day, and reviewing in memory 
the means of making the next day pass as agreeably as 
the first. After no end of sports in the meadow, every- 
one went to bed highly gratified by the way in which 
their first day had been spent. 

Io6 THE HEPTAMEkON OF THE \N(rvel \\. 


Next day, the party rose betimes, eager to return to 
the spot where they had had so much pleasure. Every- 
one had his tale ready, and was impatient to bring it 
forth. After having heard Madame Oisille's reading and 
attended mass, dinner was the next affair, during which . | 
they also recalled to mind many a story. ■ 

After dinner they went to rest in their chambers, 
and at the appointed hour everyone repaired to the 
meadow, where it seemed that the weather and the day 
expressly favoured their design. After they were all 
seated on verdant couches prepared by nature's own 
hands, Parlamente said, " Since I was the last speaker 
yesterday, it is for me to select the lady who shall begin 
this day's proceedings. Those of yesterday having been i 
opened by Madame Oisille, the sagest and eldest lady 
present, I give my vote to day to the youngest — I do not 
say to the most light-witted, for I am sure that if we all 
follow her example, the monks will not have to wait so 
long to say vespers as they did yesterday. I call upon 
you, Nomerfide, but I beg you will not make us begin 
the day with tears." 

" There was no need to give me that caution," said 
Nomerfide ; " for one of our companions has made me 
choose a tale, which I have set so fast in my head that 
I could not tell any other ; and if it engenders sadness 
in you, why then your nature must be very melancholy." 

Second day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. lo; 


An odorous adventure which befell Madame de Roncex at the 
Franciscan Monastery of Thouars. 

In the household of Madame de La Tremouille there 
was a lady named Roncex, who one day, when her mis- 
tress had gone to the Cordeliers, had a pressing need to 
go to the place to which she could not send her waiting- 
woman. She took with her a girl named La Mothe to 
keep her company, but from bashfulness and desire of 
secrecy left her in the chamber, and entered alone into a 
very dark privy, which was common to all the Cordeliers ; 
and they had rendered such good account there of all 
their victuals that the whole place, the seat and the floor, 
was covered with must of Bacchus and Ceres, passed 
through thebellies of the Cordeliers. The poor woman, 
who was so hard pressed that she had scarcely time to 
tuck up her skirts to sit down, unluckily seated herself 
on the filthiest spot in the whole place, and there she 
stuck as if she had been glued to it, and her poor buttocks, 
garments, and feet were so bewrayed that she durst not 
step or turn any way for fear of making herself still worse. 
Thereupon she began to cry out, as loud as she could, " La 
Mothe, my dear, I am undone and dishonoured ! " The 
poor girl, who had heard sundry tales of the wickedness 
of the Cordeliers, suspecting that some of them were hid 
there, and wanted to violate the lady, ran as fast as she 
could, saying to everyone she met, " Come and help 
Madame de Roncex ; the Cordeliers want to ravish her 
in that privy." They ran to the place with all speed, 
and found the poor dame De Roncex crying for help, 
desiring to have some woman who could clean her, and 


with her hinder parts all uncovered, for she was afraid 
to touch them with her garments lest she should befoul 
them. Rushing in at her cries, the gentlemen beheld 
that fine spectacle, and found no Cordelier molesting her, 
but only the ordure with which all her posteriors were 
glued. This did not pass without laughter on their part 
or great shame on hers ; for, instead of having women 
to clean her, she was waited on by men, who saw her 
naked in the worst condition in which a woman could 
show herself. Thereupon she dropped her clothes, and 
so dirtied what was still clean, forgetting the filth she 
was in for the shame she felt at seeing men. When she 
was out of that nasty place, it was necessary to strip 
her stark naked, and change all her clothes before she 
left the monastery. She was very much disposed to re- 
sent the help which La Mothe had brought her, but 
understanding that the poor girl believed her case was 
still worse, she forgot her anger and laughed like the 

Methinks, ladies, this story has been neither long 
nor melancholy, and that you have had from me what you 

The company laughed heartily at her story, and 
Oisille said to her, " Though the tale is nasty and dirty, 
we cannot object to it, knowing the persons to whom it 
happened. Well, I should have been very glad to see 
the faces worn by La Mothe and by her to whom she 
brought such good aid. But since you have ended so 
soon, give your voice to some one who does not think 
with such levity." 

" If you would have my fault repaired," replied No- 
merfide, " I give my voice to Dagoucin, who is so dis- 
creet that for his life he would not utter a folly." 

Second day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 109 

Dagoucin thanked her for the favourable opinion she 
entertained of his good sense, and said, "The story I 
propose to relate will serve to show how love infatuates 
the greatest and worthiest hearts, and how difficult it is 
to overcome wickedness by dint of kindness." 

[The preceding novel and epilogue, wliich are found in all the 
manuscripts consulted by the Bibliophiles Fran^ais, are the nine- 
teenth of the edition of 1558. They are suppressed in that of 
1559, and in all the subsequent editions, except that of 1853, and 
the following substituted for them.] 

Facetious Sayings of a Cordelier in his Sermons. 
Near the town of Blere, in Touraine, there is a vil- 
lage named Martin le Beau, where a Cordelier of Tours 
was called on to preach the Advent and Lent sermons. 
This Cordelier, who had more gabble than learning, find- 
ino- himself sometimes short of matter, would contrive 
to eke out his hour by telling tales, which were not alto- 
gether disagreeable to the good villagers. Preaching on 
Holy Thursday, on the Pascal Lamb, when he had to 
state that it was eaten by night, seeing among the con- 
gregation some handsome young ladies newly arrived 
from Amboise with the intention of spending Easter at 
the village, he wished to surpass himself, and asked all 
the women if they knew what it was to eat raw meat at 
night. " If you don't, I will tell you, ladies," said he. 
The young men of Amboise, who had come, some with 
their wives, others with their sisters and nieces, and who 
were not acquainted with the pilgrim's humour, began 
to be scandalised ; but after having heard him further, 
instead of being shocked, they laughed, especially when 
he told them that to eat the Pascal Lamb it was neces- 
sary to have one's loins girt, one's feet in one's shoes, 
and a hand on one's staff. The Cordelier, seeing them 
laugh, and guessing why, immediately corrected himself. 


"Well, then, shoes on one's feet, and one's staff in his 
hand," said he. "Buttered bread, and bread buttered — 
is it not all one?" How this was received I leave you 
to guess. The Cordelier, perceiving that his hour was 
nearly out, made new efforts to divert the ladies, and 
gave them reason to be pleased with him. " By-and-by, 
ladies," he said to them, " when you are chatting with 
your gossips, you will ask them, ' Who is this master 
friar who speaks so boldly .■' He is a jovial companion, 
I warrant.' I tell you, ladies, be not astonished — no, be 
not astonished if I speak boldly, for I am of Anjou, at 
your service." So saying he ended his sermon, leaving 
his audience more disposed to laugh at his absurdities 
than to weep over the Passion of our Lord, the com- 
memoration of which they were then celebrating. 

His other sermons during the holidays were pretty 
much of the like efficacy. You know the brethren of 
that order do not forget to go about making their collec- 
tions to get them their Easter eggs, as they say. Not 
only have they no lack of these, but people give them 
besides many other things, such as linen, yarn, chitter- 
lings, hams, chines, and so forth. On Easter Tuesday, 
when he was making his exhortations to charity, of 
which people of his sort are no niggards, he said, " I am 
bound, ladies, to thank you for the charities you have 
bestowed on our poor convent, but I cannot help re- 
marking to you that you have not duly considered our 
wants. You have given us, for the most part, nothing 
but chitterlings, of which, thanks be to God, we have no 
scarcity, the convent being choke-full of them. What 
shall we do, then, with such lots of chitterlings ^ Do 
you know what we shall do with them } It is my advice* 
ladies, that you mix your hams with our chitterlings, 
and you will make a fine alms." 

Facetious sayings of a Cordelier. 

Second day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 1 j 

Then, continuing his sermon, he contrived to intro- 
duce the subject of scandal. After having expatiated 
upon it and adduced some examples, he cried out, with 
warmth, " I am surprised, ladies and gentlemen of St, 
Martin, that you are scandalised at a thing that is less 
than nothing, and that you make a talk of me every- 
where without reason, saying, ' Who would have thought 
it of the father, that he should have got his landlady's 
daughter with child ? ' That is a thing to be astonished 
about, truly, A monk has got a girl with child. What 
a wonder ! But hark you, fair ladies, would you not 
have reason to be much more surprised if the girl had 
got the monk with child .-* " 

Such, ladies, were the precious viands with which 
this good shepherd fed the Lord's flock. So shameless 
was he, that after the commission of his sin, he had the 
impudence to speak of it in the pulpit, where nothing 
should be uttered but what is edifying to one's neigh- 
bour, and tends, in the first place, to the glory of 

" That was what you may call a master-monk," said 
Saffredent. " I should be at a loss to choose between 
him and Friar Angebaut, at whose door were laid 
all the facetious things that were said in good com- 

" I see no matter for laughter in all this," said Oisille, 
" nor is the circumstance of the time to the monk's ad' 

" You omit to say, madam," observed Nomerfide, 
"that at that time, although the thing happened not 
very long ago, your honest villagers, nay, most of the 
people even of the good towns, who think themselves 
cleverer than the others, had more regard for such 

112 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \Noz'el i\. 

preachers than for those wh(^ preached to them the holy 
Gospel purely and simply." 

" Be that as it may," said Hircan, " he was not far 
wrong in asking for hams in exchange for chitterlings, 
for there is a great deal more eating in them. If any 
devout dame had understood the thing amphibologically, 
as I believe the monk intended, neither he nor his breth- 
ren would have been badly off, any more than the young 
wench who had her bag full." 

" What effrontery ! " exclaimed Oisille, " to pervert 
the sense of the text according to his caprice, thinking 
he had to do with people as brutalised as himself, and 
impudently endeavouring to corrupt silly women, in 
order to teach them to eat raw meat at night." 

"Ay," said Simontault, "but then he had before 
him those young tripesellers of Amboise, in whose tub 

he would fain have washed his . Shall I say what } 

No, you understand me. He would gladly have given 
them a taste of it, not roasted, but all stirring and frisk- 
ing to give them the more pleasure." 

" Gently, gently, Seigneur Simontault," said Parla- 
mente; "you forget yourself. Where is your usual 
modesty, of which you can make such good use at 

" True, madam, but the foul-mouthed monk made 
me equivocate. To return to our first proceedings, I 
beg that Nomerfide, who is the cause of my error, will 
give her voice to some one who will make us forget our 
common fault." 

" Since you will have it that I am a sharer in the 
fault," said Nomerfide, " I will choose one who will set 
all right again ; and that is Dagoucin, who is so well be- 
haved that he would rather die than say anything im- 

Second day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 1^ 

Dagoucin thanked her for her good opinion. "The 
story I am going to relate," he said, " is calculated to 
show you how love infatuates the greatest and the best, 
and how difficult it is to overcome wickedness by dint of 


Incontinence and tyranny of a duke of Florence — Just punishment 

of his wickedness. 

At Florence there lived, about ten years ago, a duke 
of the house of Medicis, who had married Madame Mar 
garet, natural daughter of the Emperor Charles the 
Fifth. As the princess was still very young, and the 
duke would not sleep with her until she was of more 
mature age, he treated her very tenderly ; and to spare 
her he amused himself with some other ladies of the 
city, whom he used to visit by night whilst his wife 
slept. Among others, he took a fancy to a lady as beau- 
tiful as she was good and virtuous, the sister of a gen- 
tleman whom the duke loved as himself, and to whom 
he conceded such authority that he was obeyed like the 
duke himself. The latter had no secrets which he did 
not communicate to him, so that, in a manner, he might 
be called his second self. The duke, knowing that the 
gentleman's sister was a lady of the highest virtue, 
durst not at first speak to her of his passion ; but after 
having tried every other expedient, he at last addressed 
his favourite on the subject. 

" If there was anything in the world, my friend," he 

."^aid, " which I would not do for you, I should be afraid 

to tell you what is in my thoughts, and still more to ask 


114 '^^^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE \_N(n'd \ii. 

your aid. But I have so much friendship for you, that 
if I had a wife, a mother, or a daughter who could save 
your hfe, you may be assured you should not die. I am 
persuaded that you love me as much as I love you. If 
I, who am your master, have such an affection for you, 
that which you should have for me should be no less. I 
have a secret, then, to tell you. Through trying to con- 
ceal it, I have fallen into the state in which you now see 
me, from which I have no hope of escaping but by 
death, or by the service you may render me, if you 

Touched by these representations on the part of his 
master, and seeing his face bathed in tears, the gentle- 
man felt so much pity that he said, " I am your creature, 
my lord ; it is from you I hold all my wealth and hon- 
ours, and you may speak to me as to your own soul, 
being sure that whatever I can do is at your com- 

The duke then declared the passion with which he 
was possessed for his favourite's sister, and told him it 
was impossible he should live long unless the brother 
enabled him to enjoy her ; for he was quite sure that 
prayers or presents would be of no avail with her. 
"If, then," said the duke, in conclusion, "you love my 
life as much as I love yours, finds means to secure me a 
bliss I can never obtain but through your aid." The 
gentleman, who loved his sister and the honour of his 
house more than his master's pleasure, remonstrated 
wuth him, and implored him not to reduce him to the 
horrible necessity of soliciting the dishonour of his 
family, protesting there was nothing he would not do 
for his master, but that his honour would not suffer him 
to perform such a service as that. The duke, inflamed 
with intolerable anger, bit his nails, and replied, furiously, 

Seco7iddayy, QUEEN OF .VA VARRE. IX^ 

"Since I find no friendship in you, I know what I have 
to do." The gentleman, who knew his master's cruelty, 
was alarmed, and said, " Since you absolutely insist on 
it, my lord, I will speak to her." " If you set store by 
my life, I will set store by yours," were the duke's last 
words as he went away. 

The gentleman knew well what this meant, and re- 
mained a day or two without seeing the duke, pondering 
over the means of extricating himself from so bad a 
dilemma. On the one hand, he considered the obligations 
he was under to his master, the wealth and honours he 
had received from him; on the other hand, he thought 
of the honour of his house, and the virtue and chastity 
of his sister. He knew very well that she never would 
consent to such infamy, unless she were overcome by 
fraud or violence, which he could not think of employ- 
ing, considering the shame it would bring upon him and 
her. In fine, he made up his mind that he would rather 
die than behave so vilely to his sister, who was one of 
the best women in Italy ; and he resolved to deliver his 
country from a tyrant who was bent on disgracing his 
house ; for he saw clearly that the only means of secur- 
ing the lives of himself and his kindred was to get rid of 
the duke. Resolved, then, without speaking to his 
sister, to save his life and prevent his shame by one and 
the same deed, he went after two days to the duke, and 
told him that he had laboured so hard with his sister 
that at last, with infinite difificulty, he had brought her 
to consent to the duke's wishes, but on condition that 
the affair should be kept secret, and that no one should 
know of it but they three. As people readily believe 
what they desire, the duke put implicit faith in the 
brother's words. He embraced him, promised him 
everything he could ask, urged him to hasten t]ie ful- 

11(3 THE nEPTA.^fERON OF THE {Novel \2. 

filment of his good tidings, and appointed a time with 
him for that purpose. 

When the exulting duke saw the approach of the 
night he so longed for, in which he expected to conquer 
her whom he had thought invincible, he retired early 
with his favourite, and did not forget to dress and per- 
fume himself with his best care. When all was still, the 
o-entleman conducted him to his sister's abode,and showed 
him into a magnificent chamber, where he undressed 
him, put him to bed, and left him, saying, " I am going, 
my lord, to bring you one who will not enter this room 
without blushing ; but I hope that before day dawns she 
will be assured of you." 

He then went away to his own room, where he found 
one trusty servant awaiting him by his orders. " Is thy 
heart bold enough," he said to him, " to follow me to a 
place where I have to revenge myself on the greatest of 
my enemies ? " " Yes, my lord," replied the man, who 
knew nothing of the matter in hand, " though it were 
upon the duke himself." Thereupon, without giving the 
man time for reflection, the gentleman hurried him away 
so abruptly that he had not time to take any other 
weapon than a poniard with which he was already 

The duke, hearing his favourite's footsteps at the 
door, believed that he was bringing him the object of 
his passion, and threw open the curtains to behold and 
welcome her ; but instead of her he saw her brother ad- 
vance upon him with a drawn sword. Unarmed, but 
undaunted, the duke started up, seized the gentleman 
round the middle, saying, " Is this the way you keep 
your word } " and for want of other weapons used his 
nails and his teeth, bit His antagonist in the thumb, and 
defended himself so well that they fell together beside 

Second day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 , 7 

the bed. The gentleman, not feeling confident in his 
own strength, called his man, who, seeing his master 
and the duke grappling each other so desperately that 
he could not well distinguish which was which in that 
dark spot, dragged them both out by the heels into the 
middle of the room, and then set about cutting the 
duke's throat with his poniard. The duke defended 
himself to the last, until he was exhausted by loss of 
blood. Then the gentleman and his man laid him on 
the bed, finished him with their poniards, drew the cur- 
tains upon the body, and left the room, locking the 
door behind them. 

Having slain his enemy and liberated the republic, 
the gentleman thought that his exploit would not be 
complete unless he did the same by five or six near re- 
lations of the duke. To this end he ordered his man to 
go and fetch them one by one ; but the servant, who had 
neither vigour nor boldness enough, replied, " It strikes 
me, my lord, that you have done enough for the present, 
and that you had much better think of saving your own 
life than of taking that of others. If every one of them 
should take as long to despatch as the duke, it would be 
daylight before we had finished, even should they be un- 
armed." As the guilty are easily susceptible of the 
contagion of fear, the gentleman took his servant's 
advice, and went with him alone to a bishop, w-hose 
place it was to have the gates opened and to give orders 
to the postmasters. The gentleman told the prelate he 
had just received intelligence that one of his brothers 
was at the point of death ; that the duke had given him 
leave to go to him, and therefore he begged his lordship 
would give him an order to the postmasters for two good 
horses, and to the gate-keepers to let him pass. The 
bishop, to whom his request seemed almost equivalent 

Il8 THE lltl'TAMERON OF THE [AWr/ 12 

to a command from the duke his master, gave 1 i:"n a 
note, by means of which he at once obtained what he 
required : but instead of going to see his brother, he 
made straight for Venice, where he had himself cured of 
the bites inflicted by the duke, and then passed over into 

Next morning the duke's servants, not seeing or 
hearing anything of him, concluded that he had gone to 
see some lady ; but at last becoming uneasy at his long 
absence, they began to look for him in all directions. 
The poor duchess, who was beginning to love hmi 
greatly, was extremely distressed at hearing that he 
could not be found. The favourite also not making his 
appearance, some of the servants went for him to his 
house. They saw blood at his chamber door, but no 
one could give any account of him. The trace of blood 
led the duke's servants to the chamber where he lay, and 
finding the door locked, they broke it open at once, saw 
the floor covered with blood, drew the curtains, and be- 
held the duke stark dead on the bed. Picture to your- 
selves the affliction of these servants, as they carried the 
body to the palace. The bishop arrived there at the 
same time, and told them how the gentleman had fled in 
the night under pretence of going to see his brother. 
This was enough to lead every one to the conclusion 
that it was he who had done the deed. It clearly ap- 
peared that his sister had known nothing about it. 
Though she was surprised at so unexpected an event, 
she loved her brother for it, since, without regard to his 
own life, he had delivered her from a tyrant who was 
bent on the ruin of her honour. She continued always 
to lead the same virtuous life ; and though she was 
reduced to poverty by the confiscation of all the family 
property, hej- sister and she found husbands as honour* 

Second day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. I jg 

able and wealthy as any in Italy. Both of them have 
always lived subsequently in the best repute.* 

Here is a fact, ladies, which should make you beware 
of that little god, who delights in tormenting princes 
and private persons, the strong and the weak, and who 
so infatuates them that they forget God and their con- 
science, and even the care of their own lives. Princes 
and those who are in authority ought to fear to outrage 
their inferiors. There is no man so insignificant but 
he can do mischief when it is God's will to inflict ven- 
geance on the sinner, nor any so great that he can do 
hurt to one whom God chooses to protect. 

This story was listened to by the whole company, 
but with very different sentiments. Some maintained 
that the gentleman had done well in securing his own 
life and his sister's honour, and delivering his country 
from such a tyrant. Others, on the contrary, said that 
it was enormously ungrateful to take the life of a man 
who had loaded him with wealth and honours. The 
ladies said he was a good brother and a virtuous citizen ; 
the gentlemen, on the contrary, maintained that he was 
a traitor and a bad servant. It was amusing to hear the 
opinions and arguments delivered on the one side and 
on the other : but the ladies, as usual, spoke more from 
passion than from judgment, saying that the duke de- 
served death, and that blessed was the brother who had 

* The historical fact related in this novel is one of the most 
celebrated in the annals of Florence. The duke was Alessandro, 
natural son of Lorenzo de Medicis, and the murderer was his cousin, 
Lorenzo de Medici. Historians state that the latter decoyed the 
duke to his house under pretence of affording him an interview 
with a Florentine lady, but they do not mention that she was 
Lorenzo's sister. 


slain him. " Ladies," said Dagoucin, who saw what a 
lively controversy he had excited, ** pray do not put your- 
selves in a passion about a thing that is past and gone ; 
only take care that your beauties do not occasion mur- 
ders more cruel than that which I have related." 

"'The Fair Lady without Compassion,'"* said Par- 
lamente, "has taught us to say that people hardly ever 
die of so agreeable a malady." 

"Would to God, madam," rejoined Dagoucin, "that 
every lady here knew how false is this notion. They 
would not then, I imagine, desire the reputation of being 
pitiless, or like to resemble that incredulous fair one 
who let a good servant die for want of responding favour- 
ably to his passion." 

" So, then," said Parlamente, " to save the life of a 
man who says he loves us, you would have us violate our 
honour and our conscience .'' " 

" I do not say that," replied Dagoucin, " for he who 
loves thoroughly would be more afraid of hurting the 
honour of his mistress than she herself. Hence it seems 
to me that a gracious response, such as is called for by 
a seemly and genuine love, would only give more lustre 
to the honour and conscience of a lady. I say a seemly 
love, for I maintain that those who love otherwise do not 
love perfectly." 

" That is always the upshot of your orisons," said 
Ennasuite. " You begin with honour, and end with its 
opposite. If all the gentlemen present will tell us the 
truth of the matter, I will believe them on their oaths." 

Hircan swore that he had never loved anyone but his 
wife, and that it was far from his wish to make her offend 

* La Belle Dame safis Merci is the title of a poem by Alain 
Charticr, in the form of a long metaphysical dialogue between a la'!)' 
and her lover. 

Second day. ] Q UEEJV OF NA FAR RE. 1 2 j 

God. Simontault spoke to the same effect, and added 
that he had often wished that all women were ill-natured 
except his own wife. " You deserve that yours should 
be so," retorted Geburon ; "but for my part, I can safely 
swear that I loved a woman so much that I would rather 
have died than have made her do anything capable of 
diminishing the esteem in which I held her. My love 
was so founded upon her virtues, that I would not have 
seen a stain upon them for the most precious favours I 
could have obtained from her." 

" I thought, Geburon," said Saffredent, laughing, 
" that the 1 ve you have for your wife, and the good sense 
with which nature has endowed you, would have saved 
you from playing the lover elsewhere ; but I see I was 
mistaiven, for you use the very phrases which we are ac- 
customed to employ to dupe the most subtle of dames, 
and under favour of which we obtain a hearing from the 
most discreet. Where is the lady, indeed, who will not 
lend us an ear when we begin our discourse with honour 
and virtue } But if we were all to lay open our hearts 
before them just as they are, there is many a man well 
received by the ladies whom then they would not con- 
descend so much as to look upon. We hide our devil 
under the form of the handsomest angel we can find, and 
so receive many a favour before we are found out. Per- 
haps, even, we lead the ladies so far, that thinking to go 
straight to virtue, they have neither time nor opportunity 
to retreat when they find themselves face to face with 

" I thought you quite a different sort of man," said 
Geburon, " and imagined virtue was more agreeable to 
you than pleasure." 

"Why," said Saffredent, " \.i there any greater virtue 
than to love in the way God has ordained .^ To me it 


seems much better to love a woman as a woman, than to 
make her one's idol, as many do. For my part, I am 
convinced that it is better to use than to abuse." 

All the ladies coincided in opinion with Geburon, 
and bade Saffredent hold his tongue. " Very well," said 
he, " I am content to say no more on the subject, for I 
have fared so badly with regard to it that I don't want 
to have any more to do with it." 

" You may thank your own bad thoughts for having 
fared badly," said Longarine, " for where is the woman 
with a proper sense of decorum who would have you for 
a lover after what you have just said.'' " 

" There are those," he retorted, " who did not think 
me intolerable, and who would not have exchanged their 
own sense of decorum for yours. But let us say no more 
about it, in order that my anger may shock no one, and 
may not shock myself. Let us think to whom Dagoucin 
will give his voice." 

" I give it to Parlamente," he replied at once, " per- 
suaded as I am that she must know better than anyone 
what is honourable and perfect friendship." 

" Since you elect me to tell a story," said Parlamente, 
" I will relate to you one which occurred to a lady who 
had always been one of my good friends, and who has 
never concealed anything from me." 

Second day. \ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 23 


The captain of a galley, under pretence of devotion, fell in love 
with a demoiselle. What happened in consequence. 

There was in the household of the regent, mother of 
King Francis, a very devout lady, married to a gentle- 
man of the same character. Though her husband was 
old, and she young and fair, nevertheless she served him 
and loved him as though he had been the handsomest 
young man in the world. To leave him no cause of 
uneasiness, she made it her care to live with him like a 
woman of his own age, shunning all company, all magnif- 
icence in dress, all dances and diversions such as women 
are usually fond of, and making the service of God her 
sole pleasure and recreation. One day her husband told 
her that from his youth upwards he had longed to make 
the journey to Jerusalem, and he asked her what she 
thought of the matter. She, whose only thought was 
how to please him, replied : " Since God has deprived us 
of children, my dear, and has given us wealth enough, I 
should be strongly inclined to spend a part of it in perform- 
ing that sacred journey ; for, whether you go to Jerusalem 
or elsewhere, I am resolved to accompany, and never 
forsake you." The good man was so pleased with this 
reply that he fancied himself already standing on Mount 

Just at this time there arrived at court a gentleman 
who had served long against the Turks, and who was come 
to obtain the king's approval for a projected enterprise 
against a fortress belonging to the Ottomans, the success 
of which was likely to be very advantageous to Chris- 


tendom. The old devotee talked with him about his ex- 
pedition, and learning from him that he was resolved 
upon it, asked him if he would be disposed, after it was 
accomplished, to make another journey to Jerusalem, 
which himself and his wife had a great desire to see. 
The captain, highly approving of so good a design, prom- 
ised to accompany him, and to keep the thing secret. 
The old gentleman was impatient to see his wife, to tell 
her what he had done. As she had scarcely less long- 
ing than her husband to perform the journey, she talked 
of it often to the captain, Avho, paying more attention to 
her person than to her words, became so much in love 
with her that, in talking to her of the voyages he had 
made by sea, he often confounded the port of Marseilles 
with the Archipelago, and said horse when he meant to 
say ship, so much was he beside himself. He found her, 
however, of so singular a character that he durst not let 
her see that he loved her, much less tell her so in words. 
The fire of his passion became so violent by dint of his 
concealing it that it often made him ill. 

The demoiselle, who regarded him as her guide, took 
as much care of him as of the cross, and sent to inquire 
after him so often that the interest she evinced for him 
cured the patient without the aid of physic. Several 
persons, who knew that the captain had always had a 
better reputation for valour than for devotion, were sur- 
prised at the great intercourse between him and this 
lady ; and seeing that he had changed from white to 
black, that he frequented the churches, attended sermons, 
and performed all the devoirs of a devotee, they doubted 
not that he did so to ingratiate himself with the lady, 
and could not even help hinting as much to him. The 
captain, fearing lest this should come to the ears of the 
lady, withdrew from society, and told her husband and 

Second day.] Q UEEN OF AAV A RRB. 1 2 5 

her, that, being on the point of receiving his orders and 
quitting the court, he had many things to say to them, 
but that, for the greater secrecy, he would only confer 
with them in private, to which end he begged they would 
send for him when they had both retired for the night. 

This proposal being quite to the old gentleman's lik- 
ing, he failed not to go to bed early every night and make 
his wife undress. After everybody had gone to rest, he 
used to send for the captain to talk about the journey to 
Jerusalem, in the course of which the good man often 
fell asleep devoutly. On these occasions, the captain, 
seeing the old gentleman sleeping like the blessed, and 
himself seated in a chair at the bedside, close to her 
whom he thought the most charming woman in the world, 
felt his heart so hard pressed, between his fear and his 
desire to declare himself, that he often lost the use of his 
tongue. But that she might not perceive his perplexity, 
he launched out upon the holy places of Jerusalem, where 
are to be seen the memorials of the great love which 
Jesus Christ had for us. What he said of that love was 
only uttered to conceal his own ; and while he expatiated 
upon it, he kept his eyes fixed on the lady, wept and 
sighed so A propos, that her heart was quite penetrated 
with piety, Believing from this outward appearance of 
devotion that he was quite a saint, she begged him to 
tell her how he had lived, and how he had come to love 
God with such fervour.'* He told her he was a poor gen- 
tleman, who to acquire wealth and honours had forgotten 
his conscience, and married a lady who was too nearly 
related to him, one wlio was rich, but old and ugly, and 
whom he did not love at all ; that after having drawn all 
his wife's money from her, he had gone to seek his for- 
tune at sea, and had sped so well that he had become 
the captain of a galley ; but that since he had had the 


honour of her acquaintance, her holy converse and her 
good example had so changed him that he was resolved, 
if by God's grace he came back alive from his expedition, 
to take her and her husband to Jerusalem, there to do 
penance for his great sins which he had forsaken, after 
which it would only remain for him to make reparation 
to his wife, to whom he hoped soon to be reconciled. 
This account which he gave of himself was very pleasing 
to the pious lady, who congratulated herself much on 
having converted a sinner of such magnitude. 

These nocturnal confabulations continued every night 
until the departure of the captain, who never ventured 
to declare himself Only he made the fair devotee a 
present of a crucifix from our Lady of Pity, beseeching 
her, whenever she looked upon it, to think of him. The 
time of his departure being come, and having taken leave 
of the husband, who was falling asleep, he had last of all 
to take leave of the fair one, in whose eyes he saw tears, 
drawn forth by the kind feeling she entertained for him. 
His impassioned heart so thrilled at the sight that he 
almost fainted as he bade her farewell, and burst into 
such an extraordinary perspiration that he wept, so to 
speak, not only with his eyes, but with every part of his 
body. Thus he departed without any explanation, and 
the lady, who never before had seen such tokens of re- 
gret, was quite astonished at his emotion. She had not 
the less good opinion of him for all that, and her prayers ac- 
companied him on his way. A month afterwards, as she 
was returning to her own house one day, she was met 
by a gentleman, who delivered a letter to her from the 
captain, begging her to read it in private, and assuring 
her that he had seen him embark, fully resolved to per- 
form an expedition which should be pleasing to the king 
and advantageous to the faith. At the same time, the 

SWffnJi/aj)^.] QUEEN Of NAVARRE. I27 

gentleman mentioned that he was going back to Mar. 
seilles to look after the captain's affairs. The lady went 
to the window and opened the letter, which consisted of 
two sheets of paper written all over. It was an elaborate 
declaration of the feelings which the writer had so care- 
fully concealed, and in it was enclosed a large handsome 
diamond, mounted in a black enamelled ring, which the 
lady was supplicated to put on her fair finger. 

Having read the enormously long letter from be- 
ginning to end. the lady was the more astonished as she 
had never suspected the captain's love for her. The 
diamond caused her much perplexity, for she knew not 
what to do with it. After thinking over the matter all 
that day, and dreaming of it at night, she rejoiced that 
she could abstam from replying for want of a messenger, 
saying to herself that as the bearer of the letter had 
taken such pains on the writer's behalf, she ought to 
spare him the mortification of such a reply as she had 
resolved to give him, but which she now thought fit to 
reserve till the captain's return. The diamond was still 
a cause of much embarrassment to her, as it was not her 
custom to adorn herself at anyone's e.xpense but her 
husband's. At last her good sense suggested to her 
that she could not employ it better than for the relief of 
the captain's conscience, and she instantly despatched 
it, by the hands of one of her servants, to the captain's 
forlorn wife, to whom she wrote as follows, in the as- 
sumed character of a nun of Tarrascon : — 

" Madam, — Your husband passed this way a little 
before he embarked. He confessed, and received his 
Creator like a good Christian, and declared to me a fact 
which lay heavy on his conscience, namely, his regret 
for not having loved you as he ought. He begged me 

128 1fi£- nEPTAMERON OF THE \Ajvel i^. 

at his departure to send you this letter with this diamond, 
which he begs you to keep for his sake, assuring you 
that if God brings him back safe and sound, he will 
make amends for the past by all the love that you can 
desire. This diamond will be for you a pledge of his 
word. I ask of you on his behalf the aid of your good 
prayers ; for all my life he shall have part in mine." 

When the captain's wife received this letter and the 
diamond, it may well be imagined how she wept with 
joy and sorrow : joy at being loved by her husband, and 
sorrow at being deprived of his presence. She kissed 
the ring a thousand times, washing it with her tears, 
and praised God for having restored her husband's 
affection to her at the close of her days, and when she 
least expected it. The nun who, under God, had wrought 
such a blessing for her was not forgotten in her grateful 
acknowledgments. She replied to her by the same man, 
who made his mistress laugh heartily when he told her 
how the captain's wife had received her communication. 
The fair devotee congratulated herself on having got rid 
of the diamond in so pious a manner, and was as much 
rejoiced at having re-established the good understanding 
between the husband and wife as though she had gained 
a kingdom. 

Some time afterwards news arrived of the defeat and 
death of the poor captain. He had been abandoned by 
those who ought to have supported him, and the Rho- 
dians, who had most interest in concealing his design, 
were the first to make it known. Nearly eighty men 
who had made a descent on the land were cut off almost 
to a man. Among them there was a gentleman named 
Jean, and a converted Turk, for whom the fair devotee 
had been godmother, and whom she had given to the 

SecomI day. \ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 29 

captain to accompany him on his expedition. Jean fell 
along with the captain ; the Turk, wounded in fifteen 
places with arrows, escaped by swimming to the French 
vessels, and it was from his report that it was known 
exactly how the thing had happened. A certain gen- 
tleman whom the captain believed to be his friend, and 
whose interests he had advanced with the king and 
the greatest personages in France, after the captain had 
landed stood off shore with his vessels. The captain, 
seeing that his scheme was discovered, and that he was 
opposed by four thousand Turks, set about retreating. 
But the gentleman in whom he put such confidence, 
considering that after his death he himself would have 
the command and the profit of that great fleet, repre- 
sented to the officers that it was not right to risk the 
king's vessels and the lives of so many brave men on 
board them in order to save eighty or a hundred per- 
sons. The officers, as spiritless as himself, coincided 
with him in opinion. The captain, seeing that the more 
he called to them the more they drew off from the shore, 
faced round against his foes, and though he was up to 
his knees in sand, he defended himself so valiantly that 
it almost seemed as if his single arm would defeat the 
assailants. But at last he received so many wounds 
from the arrows of those who durst not approach him 
within less than bowshot distance, that he began to grow 
weak from loss of blood. The Turks, seeing that the 
Christians were nearly spent, fell upon them with the 
scimitars ; but notwithstanding the overwhelming num- 
bers of the foe, the Christians defended themselves as 
long as they had breath. The captain called to him the 
gentleman named Jean, and the Turk whom the devotee 
had given him, and planting his sword in the ground, 
kissed and embraced the cross on his knees, saying. 


" Lord, receive the soul of him who has not spared his 
life for the exaltation of thy name." Jean, seeing him 
droop as he uttered these words, took him and his sword 
in his arms, wishing to succour him ; but a Turk cut 
both his thighs to the bone from behind. " Come, cap- 
tain," he cried, as he received the stroke, " let us go to 
Paradise to see him for whose sake we die." As he had 
been united with the captain in life, so was he also in 
death. The Turk, seeing that he could be of no use to 
either of them, and that he was pierced with arrows, 
made his way to the vessels by swimming ; and though 
he was the only one who escaped out of eighty, the per- 
fidious commander would not receive him. But being a 
good swimmer, he went from vessel to vessel, till at last 
he was taken on board a small one, where in the course 
of a little time he was cured of his wounds. 

It was through this foreigner that the truth became 
known respecting this event, glorious to the captain, 
and shameful to his companion in arms. The king, and 
all good people who heard of it, deemed the act of the 
latter so black towards God and man that there was no 
punishment too bad for him. But on his return he told 
so many lies, and made so many presents, that not only 
did his crime remain unpunished, but he succeeded to 
the post of him whose lacquey he was not worthy to be. 
When the sad news reached the court, the regent- 
mother, who highly esteemed the captain, greatly 
mourned his loss. So did the king, and all who had 
known him. When she, whom he had so passionately 
loved, heard of his strange, piteous, and Christian end, 
the obduracy she had felt towards him melted into tears, 
and her lamentations were shared by her husband, 
whose pilgrim hopes were frustrated by the catas- 

Second day. ] Q UEEN OF A 'A VARRE. 1 3 1 

I must not forget to mention that a demoiselle be- 
longing to this lady, who loved the gentleman Jean bet' 
ter than herself, told her mistress, the very day the cap- 
tain and he were killed, that she had seen in a dream 
him whom she loved so much, that he had come to her 
in white raiment to bid her farewell, and told her that 
he was going to Paradise with his captain. But when 
she learned that her dream was true, she made such 
piteous moans that her mistress had enough to do to 
console her. Some time after, the court went into Nor- 
mandy, of which province the captain was a native, and 
his wife failed not to come and pay her respects to the 
regent-mother, intending to be introduced by the lady 
with whom her husband had been so much in love. 
Whilst waiting for the hour when she could have audi- 
ence, the two ladies entered a church, where the widow 
began to laud her husband, and make lamentations over 
his death. " I am, madam, the most unhappy of women," 
she said. " God has taken my husband from me at the 
time when he loved me more than ever he had done." 
So saying, she showed the diamond she wore on her fin- 
ger as a pledge of his perfect affection. This was not 
said without a world of tears ; and the other lady, who 
saw that her good-natured fraud had produced so excel- 
lent an effect, was so strongly tempted to laugh, in spite 
of her grief, that, not being able to present the widow 
to the regent, she handed her over to another, and re- 
tired into a chapel, where she had her laugh out.* 

* The incidents related in this novel appear to be real, but it 
is impossible to discover the names of the actors. M. Paul Lacroix 
supposes the hero of the novel to be a Baron de Malleville, Knight 
of Malta, who was killed at Beyrout in an expedition against the 
Turks, and whose death has been celebrated by Clement Marot. 
But the Bibliophiles Fran<;ais remark that the conjecture is unten- 


Methinks, ladies, that those of our sex to whom 
presents are made ought to be glad to employ them as 
usefully as did this good lady ; for they would find there 
is pleasure and joy in doing good. We must by no 
means accuse her of fraud, but praise her good sense, 
which enabled her to extract good out of a bad thins:. 

" You mean to say, then," said Nomerfide, " that a 
fine diamond, worth two hundred crowns, is a bad thing } 
I assure you, if it had fallen into my hands, neither his 
wife nor his relations would ever have set eyes on it- 
Nothing is more one's own than a thing that is given. 
The captain was dead, no one knew anything of the mat- 
ter, and she might well have abstained from making the 
poor old woman cry." 

"Good faith, you are right," said Hircan, "for there 
is many a woman who, to show that she is better than 
others, does acts contrary to her nature. In fact, do we 
not all know that nothing is more covetous than a woman 1 
Yet vanity often prevails with them over avarice, and 
makes them do things in which their hearts have no 
share. In my opinion, the lady who set so little store 
by the diamond did not deserve it." 

" Gently, gently," said Oisille ; " I think I know her, 
and I pray you not to condemn her unheard." 

" I do not condemn her, madam," replied Hircan ; 
" but if the gentleman was so gallant a man as he has 
been represented to have been, it was a glorious thing 
for her to have a lover of such merit, and to wear his 
ring. But perhaps some one less worthy to be loved 
held her so fast by the finger that the ring could not be 
placed on it." 

able. De Malleville being styled Parisien by the poet, whereas the 
captain was a Norman. He was a married man, too, which a 
Knight of Malta could not be. 

Secmdday.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 133 

" Truly," said Ennasuite, " she might fairly keep it, 
since no one knew anything about it." 

** What ! " exclaimed Geburon, "is everything allow- 
able for those who love, provided nobody knows of 

" I have never," said Saffredent, " seen anything pun- 
ished as a crime except imprudence ; in fact, no mur- 
derer, robber, or adulterer, is ever punished by justice, 
or blamed amongst men, provided they are as cunning 
as they are wicked. But wickedness often blinds them 
so that they become witless. Thus it may be truly said 
that it is only fools who are punished, and not the 


"You may say what you will," said Oisille, "but it is 
for God to judge the heart of the lady. For my part, I 
see nothing in her conduct but what is comely and vir- 
tuous ; and to put an end to this dispute, I beg you, 
Parlamente, to call on some one to follow you." 

" I have great pleasure in calling on Simontault," 
replied Parlamente, " and I am mistaken if, after these 
two sad novels, he will not give us one which will not 
make us weep." 

" That is almost as good as saying that I am a buf- 
foon," said Simontault. " By way of revenge, I will let 
you see that there are women who make a show of be- 
ing chaste with regard to certain people, or for a certain 
time ; but the end unmasks them, as you will see by 
this true story." 



Subtlety of a lover who, counterfeiting the real favourite, found 
means to recompense himself for his past troubles. 

At the time when the grand-master of Chaumcnt 
was governor of the duchy of Milan, there was a gen- 
tleman named Bonnivet, whose merits afterwards raised 
hiin to the rank of admiral of France. As his rare en- 
dowments made him liked by everybody, he was often a 
welcome guest at banquets and entertainments where 
ladies were present, and he was better received by them 
than ever was Frenchman before or since, both because 
he was a handsome, agreeable man, and spoke well, and 
because he had the reputation of being one of the 
ablest and most resolute soldiers of his time. One day 
during the carnival, when he was among the masters, he 
danced with a lady, one of the handsomest and finest 
women in IMilan. At every pause in the music, he 
failed not to entertain her with the language of love, in 
which no one was such an adept as he; but the fair one, 
viot thinking herself bound to respond to his most hum- 1 
ble supplications, cut him short, told him flatly that she - 
neither loved nor ever would love any one but her hus- 
band, and that he had better address his tender speeches 
elsewhere. Nothing daunted by this reply, which he j 
would by no means take for a refusal, Bonnivet stuck to ! 
the lady, and continued to press his suit with great vi- 
vacity until Mid-Lent. In spite of all his endeavours, | 
he found her steadfast in the resolution she had ex- ] 
pressed, yet could not persuade himself that all this was 


Seco7idday\ QUEEX OF NAVARRE. 135 

real earnest, seeing the hard favour of the husband and 
the beauty of the wife. 

Convinced, then, that she practised dissimulation, he 
resolved to have recourse to the same art, and thence- 
forth desisted from his solicitations. He narrowly in- 
quired into her conduct, and found that she loved an 
Italian gentleman of good parts and accomplishments. 
Bonnivet gradually insinuated himself into the Italian's 
acquaintance, and did so with such adroitness that the 
latter never suspected his motive, but conceived such an 
esteem for him that next to his fair one he Was the 
person he loved best in the world. In order to extract 
the Italian gentleman's secret from his breast, Bonnivet 
pretended to unlock his own, and told him that he loved 
a lady, naming one whom he scarcely ever thought of, 
at the same time begging him to keep the secret, that 
they might both have but one heart and one thought. 
The Italian, in return for the confidence which Bonnivet 
reposed in him, informed him, without reserve, of his 
passion for the lady before mentioned, on whom Bon- 
nivet wanted to be revenged. The two friends met 
every day, and mutually recounted the good fortunes of 
the last four-and-twenty hours, with this difference, 
however, that one lied and the other told the truth. 
The Italian confessed that he had loved the lady in 
question for three years, without ever having obtained 
from her more than fair words and assurances that he 
was loved. Bonnivet gave him his very best advice ; the 
Italian acted upon it, and prospered by it so well that in 
a few days the lady consented to fulfil all his desires. 
Nothing remained now but to contrive means for their 
meeting ; but as Bonnivet was fertile in expedients, this 
was soon done. 

" I am more obliged to you than to any man living," 


said the Italian to him one evening before supper, "for, 
thanks to your excellent advice, I expect this night to 
enjoy what I have been longing for so many years." 

" Pray let me know the nature of your enterprise," 
said Bonnivet, " so that if there is any risk in it, or it re- 
quires any artifice, I may aid and serve as your friend." 

He then learned that the lady had an opportunity for 
leaving the great door of the house open, under the 
pretext of enabling one of her brothers, who was ill, to 
send out at any hour of the night for what he might re- 
quire. The Italian was to enter the court-yard through 
that door, but was not to ascend the main staircase. 
He was to turn to the right to a small staircase, go up 
it to the first gallery, on which the chambers of her 
father-in-law and her brother-in-law opened. He was to 
take the third door from the stairs, push it gently, and 
if he found it locked, he was to go away at once, for he 
might conclude for certain that her husband had re- 
turned, though he was not expected back for two days ; 
but if he found the door open, he was to come in softly, 
and lock the door behind him, being assured that there 
was no one in the room but herself. Above all, he was 
to wear felt shoes, that he might make no noise, and 
not leave home till two hours after midnight, for her 
brothers-in-law, who were much addicted to play, never 
went to bed till past one o'clock. Bonnivet congratu- 
lated his friend, wished him good speed, and bade him ' 
not hesitate to command his services if he could be of 
any use to him. The Italian thanked him, said that in 
affairs such as this one could not be too much alone, and 
went off to make his preparations. 

Bonnivet, on his side, did not sleep ; and seeing that 
the time was come to be revenged on the cruel fair one, 
he went to bed early, had his beard trimmed after the 


Second dajy.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 1,7 

fashion of the Italian's, and his hair cut so that she 
might not recognize the difference if she touched him. 
The felt shoes were not forgotten, nor any of the other 
things which the Italian was accustomed to wear. As he 
was held in high consideration by the lady's father-in- 
law, he did not hesitate to go early to the house, being 
prepared, in case anyone perceived him, to go straight 
to the chamber of the old gentleman, with whom he had 
some business. 

He reached the house at midnight ; met several 
people in it passing to and fro, but no one noticed him, 
and he made his way into the gallery. He touched the 
first two doors, and found them shut ; the third being 
open, he entered it, and locked it behind him. The 
chamber was all hung with white, and there was a bed 
with a drapery of the same colour, of such fine stuff, and 
so excellently wrought with the needle, that nothing 
could be handsomer. The lady was alone in bed, 
dressed in the most exquisite night-gear, as he could 
perceive (himself unseen) through a corner of the cur- 
tain, for there was a large wax candle burning in the 
room. For fear of being recognized, he first put out the 
light ; then he undressed and went to bed to her. The 
fair one, believing him to be the man she had loved so 
long, received him with all possible caresses ; but he, 
well knowing that he owed all this to her mistake, took 
good heed not to say one word to her, his only care 
being to revenge himself at the cost of her honour, and 
without being under any obligation to her ; but she 
liked that sweet revenge so well, that she thought she 
had recompensed him for all his sufferings. This lasted 
till the clock struck one, when it was time to leave her. 
Then he asked her, in a very low whisper, if she was as 
well satisfied with him as he was with her. She, think- 


ing Still that he was her lover, replied that she was not 
only satisfied, but even surprised at the excess of his 
love, which had kept him an hour without speaking. 
Upon this he could restrain himself no longer. " Now, 
madam," he said, laughing outright, "will you refuse me 
another time, as you have hitherto done .'' " 

The lady, recognizing him too late by his voice and 
his laughter, was overwhelmed with shame and vexation, 
and called him a thousand times impostor, cheat, trai- 
tor, villain. She would have sprung out of bed to look 
for a knife with which to kill herself for having been so 
unhappy as to lose her honour for a man whom she did 
not love, and who, to be revenged upon her, might make 
known this affair to the whole world. But he held her 
fast, and vowed so hard that he would love her better 
than the other, and would faithfully keep her secret, 
that at last she believed him, and was pacified. He 
then told her how he had contrived to find himself where 
he then was, and related to her all the pains he had 
taken to win her ; whereupon she praised his ingenuity, 
and vowed that she would love him better than the 
other, who had not been able to keep her secret. She 
was now convinced, she said, how false were the preju- 
dices that prevailed against the French, who were better 
men, more persevering, and more discreet than the 
Italians ; and from that moment she would cast off the 
erroneous opinions of her countrypeople, and attach her- 
self heartily to him. Only she entreated him that for 
some time he would forbear from showing himself at any 
entertainment or in any place where she might be, unless 
he were masked ; for she knew well she should be so 
much ashamed, that her countenance would tell tales of 
her to everybody. Having promised this, he begged her 
in his turn to receive his friend well when he should 

Second day:\ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE ■ 1 3 9 

come about two o'clock, and afterwards get rid of him 
by degrees. She made great difficulties about this, and 
only yielded at last under the strong coercion of her love 
for Bonnivet, who on taking leave of her behaved so 
much to her satisfaction that she would gladly have had 
him stay a little longer. 

Having risen and put on his clothes, he went out of 
the room, and left the door ajar, as he had found it. As 
it was near two o'clock, he withdrew into a corner near 
the head of the stairs, lest he should meet the Italian, 
and soon afterwards saw him pass along the gallery and 
enter the fair one's chamber. Bonnivet then went home 
to rest after the fatigues of the night, and remained in 
bed till nine next morning. The Italian failed not to 
come to him when he was getting up, and gave him an 
account of his adventure, which had not turned out quite 
so agreeably as he had expected; for, said he, " I found the 
lady out of bed in her dressing-gown, and in a high 
fever, her pulse beating violently, her face all on fire, 
and such a great perspiration breaking out upon her, 
that she begged me to go away for fear she should be 
obliged to call her women to her. She was so ill, in 
short, that she had more need to think of death than of 
love, and to be put in mind of Heaven rather than of 
Cupid. She was very sorry, she told me, that I had run 
such a hazard for her sake, since she could not make me 
any requital in this world, being about, as she hoped, 
to find herself soon in a better one. I was so shocked 
at a mischance I so little anticipated, that my fire and 
my joy were changed to ice and sadness, and I instantly 
withdrew. At daylight this morning I sent to inquire 
for her, and have received word that she is extremely 

As he delivered this sad report he wept so piteously 

1 40 THE HEPTAMERON OE THE [Navel 14. 

that one would have thought his soul would have been 
washed out with his tears. Bonnivet, who was as much 
disposed to laugh as the other was to weep, consoled 
him as well as he could, and bade him recollect that 
things of long duration always seem to have an untoward 
beginning, and that love had caused this delay only to 
enhance his future enjoyment. Thereupon the two 
friends parted. The lady kept her bed for some days, 
and was no sooner out of it once more than she dis- 
missed her first lover, alleging as her reason the fear of 
death in which she had been, and the terror of her con- 
science. She devoted herself wholly to Bonnivet, whose 
love lasted, as usual, about as long as the bloom and 
beauty of the flowers. 

It strikes me, ladies, that Bonnivet' s sly manoeuvres 
were a fair set-off against the hypocrisy of the Milanese 
lady, who, after playing the prude so long, at last let her 
lasciviousness be seen. 

" You may say what you please of women," said 
Ennasuite ; " but Bonnivet's conduct was anything but 
that of a man of honour. If a woman loves a man, is 
that any reason why another should have her by 
trickery .'' " 

" Set it down for certain," said Geburon, " that when 
that sort of goods is for sale, they are always carried off 
by the highest and last bidder. Do not imagine that 
those who serve ladies take such a world of trouble for 
their sakes. No, it is for themselves, and for their own 

" Of that I entertain no manner of doubt," said Lon- 
garine ; " for, to be frank with you, all the lovers I have 
had have invariably begun by talking of my interests, 
and telling me that they loved my life, my welfare, and 

Second day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 41 

my honour, and the upshot of it all has no less invariably 
been their own interest, their own pleasure, and their 
own vanity. So it is best to dismiss them before they 
have finished the first part of their sermon ; for when you 
come to the second, you cannot refuse them with so 
much credit to yourself, since declared vice is a thing 
to be rejected as a matter of course." 

" According to your doctrine, then," said Ennasuite, 
" one ought to rebuff a man as soon as he opens his 
mouth, without knowing what he has to say." 

" Not so," replied Parlamente. " Every one knows 
that, at the outset, a woman ought not to let it appear 
that she understands, still less that she believes, the 
declaration made to her by a lover ; but when he comes to 
strong oaths, it strikes me that it is more becoming in 
the lady to leave him in the middle of that fine road 
than to go with him all the way to the bottom." 

" Nay, but are we always to assume that they love us 
with a criminal passion .^ " said Noraerfide. " Is it not 
sinful to think ill of one's neighbour .'' " 

" You may believe this or not, as you please," said 
Oisille ; " but there is so much reason for fearing that 
such is the case, that the moment you discover the least 
inkling of it, you cannot be too prompt in getting away 
from a fire which is too apt to burn up a heart before 
even it is once perceived." 

" That is a very hard law you lay down," replied 
Hircan. " If women, whom gentleness becomes so well, 
were all as rigorous as you would have thern to be, we 
men would lay aside meekness and supplication, and 
have recourse to stratagem and violence." 

" The best thing," said Simontault, " is, that every 
one should follow the bent of his nature, and love or not, 
as he pleases, but always without dissimulation." 


"Would to God," exclaimed Saffredent, "that the 
observance of this law were as productive of honour as 
it would be of pleasure ! " 

But Dagoucin could not refrain from observing, 
" Those who would rather die than make known their 
sentiments, could not endure your law." 

" Die ! " cried Hircan. " The good knight is yet un- 
born who would die for any such cause. But let us say 
no more of what is impossible, and see to whom Simoa- 
tault will give his voice." 

" To Longarine," replied the gentleman thus ap- 
pealed to; "for I observed her just now talking to 
herself. I suspect she was conning over some good 
thing, and she is not wont to disguise the truth either 
against man or woman." 

" Since you think me such a friend to the truth," 
said Longarine, " I will tell you a story, which, though 
not quite so much to the credit of our sex as I could 
wish, will, nevertheless, show you that there are women 
who have as much spirit and as sound wits as men, and 
are not inferior to them in cunning. If my story is 
somewhat long, I will endeavour to make you amends by 
a little gayety." 


How a lady of the court, being neglected by her husband, whose 
love was bestowed elsewhere, retaliated upon him. 

There was at the court of King Francis the First a 
gentleman whom I could name if I would. He was poor, 
not having five hundred livres a year ; but the king prized 
him so highly for his great endowments, that he bestowed 


Second day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 4^ 

upon him a wife so wealthy that a great lord might have 
been satisfied with such a match. As his wife was still 
very young, the king requested one of the grearesi 
ladies of the court to take her into her household, which 
she did with great willingness. The gentleman was so 
well-bred and so good-looking, that he was greatly 
esteemed by all the court ladies, especially by one of 
them, whom the king loved, and who was neither so 
young nor so handsome as his wife. The gentleman 
loved this lady so passionately, and made so little account 
of his wife, that he hardly shared her bed one night in 
the year ; and to add to the poor creature's mortifica- 
tion, he never spoke to her, or showed her any token of 
kindness ; a sort of treatment which she found it very 
hard to bear. Meanwhile he spent her income for his 
own gratification, and allowed her so small a share of it, 
that she had not wherewithal to dress as became her 
quality. The lady with whom she resided often com- 
plained of this to the husband. "Your wife," she said, 
" is handsome, rich, and of a good family, yet you neglect 
her. Her extreme youth has enabled her hitherto to 
endure this neglect ; but it is to be feared, that when 
she comes to maturer years, her mirror, and some one 
who is no friend to you, will so set before her eyes her 
beauty which you disdain, that resentment will prompt 
her to do what she would not have dared to think of if 
you had treated her better." But the gentleman, whose 
heart was set elsewhere, made light of these judicious 
remonstrances, and went on in his old ways. 

After two or three years, the young wife began to be 
one of the finest women in France. Her reputation 
was so great that it was commonly reported at court that 
she had not her equal. The more sensible she became 
that she was worthy to be loved, the more poignantly 

1^4 ^-^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE \Navd \t, 

she felt her husband's contemptuous treatment, and but 
for the efforts of her mistress to console her, she would 
almost have sunk into hopeless melancholy. After hav- 
ing tried in vain every means to please her husband, she 
came to the conclusion that it was impossible he should 
so ill respond to the love she bore him unless he were 
captivated elsewhere. With this idea in her mind, she 
set to work so carefully and so shrewdly that she found 
out where it was he was so occupied every night as to 
forget his conscience and his wife. When she had thus 
got certain evidence of the life he led, she fell into such 
deep despondency that she would wear nothing but 
black, and shunned all places of amusement. Her mis- 
tress perceived this, and omitted nothing by which she 
could hope to raise her out of that gloomy mood ; but all 
her kind efforts were unavailing. Her husband was 
made acquainted with her condition, but instead of caring 
to relieve it, he only laughed at it. 

A great lord who was nearly related to the young 
wife's protectress, and who paid her frequent visits, hav- 
ing one day been informed of the husband's hard-hearted 
behaviour, was so shocked at it, that he would fain try 
to console the wife ; but he was so charmed with her 
conversation and manners, and thought her so beautiful, 
that he had far more desire to make her love him than 
to talk to her of her husband, except it was to let her 
know how little cause she had to love such a man. As 
for the young lady herself, forsaken by him who ought 
to have loved and cherished her, and wooed by a lord 
who had everything to recommend him, she thought her- 
self fortunate in having made such a conquest. Though 
she desired always to preserve her honour, nevertheless 
she took great pleasure in talking to him, and in seeing 
that she was loved, a thing whereof she had, so to speak, 


Seco>iJ U.iy. ] Q UEEN OF NA VA KRE. 1 45 

a famishing need. This tender friendship lasted some 
time, but at last the king became aware of it, and as he 
had a great regard for the husband, and would not have 
any one affront or annoy him, he begged the prince to 
discontinue his attentions, on pain of incurring the royal 
displeasure. The prince, who prized the king's good 
graces above all the ladies in the world, promised to 
forego his designs, since such was the king's wish, and 
to go that very evening and bid farewell to the lady. 

That evening the husband, being at his window, saw 
the prince come in and enter his wife's chamber, which 
was beneath his own. The prince saw him too, but did 
not turn back for all that. On saying farewell to her 
whom he was but beginning to love, the only reason he 
alleged for this change in him was the king's command. 
After many tears and lamentations, which lasted nearly 
until one o'clock in the morning, the lady said to him at 
parting, " I thank God, my lord, for the grace he confers 
upon me in depriving me of your friendship, since it is 
so little and so weak that you take it up and lay it down 
at the commands of men. As for me, I did not consult 
either mistress, or husband, or myself, whether I should 
love you or not. Your engaging manners and your good 
looks won my heart ; but since yours is less amorous than 
timid, you cannot love perfectly, and the friend who is 
not true and staunch to the uttermost is not the friend 
for me to love thoroughly, as I had resolved to love you ; 
farewell, then, my lord, you whose timidity does not de- 
serve a love so frank and so sincere as mine." 

The prince went away with tears in his eyes, and 
looking back, he again saw the husband, who had watched 
him in and out. Next day the prince told him why he 
had gone to see his wife, and acquainted him with the 
commands laid upon him by the king, whereat the gen- 



tlenian was greatly pleased, and gave much thanks to his 
sovereign. But seeing that his wife was becoming more 
beautiful every day, and he himself older and less good- 
looking, he began to change his part, and to assume that 
which he had long made his wife play ; for he sought 
her more than he had been wont, and took much more 
notice of her. But the more he sought her the more she 
shunned him, Demg very glad to pay him back a part of 
the distress he had caused her by his mdifference. At 
the same time, not to miss the pleasure which love was 
beginning to afford her, she cast her eyes on a young 
gentleman whose person and manners were so engaging, 
that he was a favourite with all the ladies of the court. 
By complaining to him of the unkind treatment she had 
experienced, she inspired him with such pity for her, 
that he left nothing untried to console her. On her part, 
to indemnify her for the prince she had lost, she loved 
this new friend so heartily, that she forgot her past griefs, 
and thought only of the means of adroitly carrying on her 
intrigue ; and in this she succeeded so well, that her 
mistress never perceived it, for she took good care never 
to speak in her presence to her lover. When she had 
anything to say to him, she went to see certain ladies of 
the court. Among these was one with whom her hus- 
band seemed to be in love. 

One dark night after supper she stole away alone, 
and entered the ladies' room, where she found him whom 
she loved more than herself. She sat down beside him, 
and leaning over a table they conversed together, whilst 
they pretended to be reading a book. Some one whom 
the husband had set on the watch came and told him 
whither his wife was gone ; and he, like a sensible man 
as he was, said nothing, but followed her quickly, en- 
tered the room, and saw her reading a book. Pretend- 

Second day \ QVEEA' OF NAVARRE. I47 

ing" not to see her, he went straight up to the ladies, who 
were at the other side of the room ; whilst so discon- 
certed was she at being found by him with a man to 
whom she had never spoken in his presence, that she 
scrambled over a table, and ran away as if her husband 
was pursuing her sword in hand, and went to her mis- 
tress, who was just about to retire for the night. 

After her mistress was undressed and she had left 
the room, she met one of her own women coming to tell 
her that her husband wanted her. She said flatly she 
would not go to him, for he was so strange and harsh 
that she was afraid he would do her some mischief. 
Nevertheless she went at last, for fear of worse. Her 
husband said not a word to her about what had occurred 
until they were in bed ; but then as she could not help 
crying, he asked her the cause of her tears .'* She cried, 
she said, because she was afraid he was angry at having 
found her reading with a gentleman. The husband re- 
plied that he had never forbidden her to speak to any- 
body ; but that he had been surprised at seeing her run 
away, as if she had done something wrong ; and that 
this had made him believe she loved the gentleman. 
The end of the matter was that he forbade her thence- 
forward to speak to any man, either in public or in 
private, assuring her that otherwise he would kill her 
without mercy. But to forbid things we like is the 
surest way to make us desire them more ardently, and 
it was not long before this poor woman had forgotten 
her husband's threats and her own promises. 

The very same evening, having gone back to sleep 
with other demoiselles and her attendants, she sent to 
invite the gentleman to visit her at night. Her hus- 
band, whose jealousy kept him awake, and who had 
heard that the gentleman used to visit his wife at night, 


wrapped himself up in a cloak, took a valet-de-chambre 
with him, and went and knocked at his wife's door. Up 
she got, -and seeing her women all asleep, she went 
alone in her mantle and slippers to the door, never in 
the least suspecting who was there. Her inquiry, who 
was there .-* was answered in her lover's name ; but for 
her better assurance, she half opened the wicket and 
said, "If you are the person you say, give me your 
hand, and I shall know if you speak truly." The mo- 
ment she felt her husband's hand, she recognized him, 
and slamming the wicket, cried out, " Ha, monsieur ! it 
is your hand." 

"Yes," cried her husband, in a great passion, " it is 
the hand that will keep word with you. So fail not to 
come, when I send for you." 

With that he went away, and she returned to her 
chamber more dead than alive. "Get up, my friends," 
she cried to her women ; "get up. You have slept too 
long for me. I thought to trick you, and I have been 
tricked myself," and. saying this, she fainted away. Her 
women, thus suddenly roused from their sleep, were 
astonished at her words, and still more when they saw 
her lying like a corpse, and they ran hurriedly to and 
fro in search of means to revive her. When she had 
recovered her speech, she said to them, " You see before 
you, my friends, the most wretched creature in the 
world." Then she related to them her adventure, en- 
treating them to stand by her, for she looked upon her- 
self already as a dead woman. While her women were 
endeavouring to comfort her, a valet-de-chambre arrived 
with a message from her husband, ordering her to come 
to him instantly. Thereupon she embraced two of her 
women, and began to cry and shriek, beseeching them 
not to let her go, for she was sure she should never re- 

Second day.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 1 49 

turn. The valet-clc-chambre, however, bade her not be 
afraid, for he would answer for it with his life that no 
harm should happen to her. Seeing, then, that resist- 
ance was useless, she threw herself in the valet's arms, 
saying, "Since it must be so, my friend, carry this 
wretched body to death ; " and in fact he carried, rather 
than led her away, for she was almost in a swoon. The 
moment she entered her husband's room, she fell on her 
knees, and said, " Have pity on me, monsieur, I beseech 
you ; and I swear to you before God that I will tell you 
the whole truth." 

" That I am determined you shall," replied the hus- 
band in a furious tone, and ordered every one to quit 
the room. As his wife had always seemed to him very 
devout, he thought she would not perjure herself if he 
made her swear on the cross. He therefore sent for a 
very handsome one he had, and when they were alone 
he made her swear on that cross that she would speak 
the truth as to such questions as he should put to her. 
By this time she had been able to rally her spirits, and 
having partly recovered from her first terror, she re- 
solved to conceal nothing, but at the same time not to 
say anything which could compromise her lover. Her 
husband then put the questions he deemed necessary, 
and this was how she replied to them : 

"I will not attempt to justify myself, monsieur, or to 
make little of the love I have entertained for the gentle- 
man who is the cause of your jealousy. Whatever I 
might say to that effect, you could not and ought not to 
believe it after what has occurred ; but I must tell you 
what has occasioned this love. Never wife so loved her 
husband as I loved you ; and but for your unkindness I 
should never have loved any one but you. You know that 
while I was yet a child, my parents wished to mafry me 


to a man of higher birth than you ; but Ihc)- could never 
make me consent to it from the moment I had spoken 
to you. I declared for you in spite of all they could say, 
and without caring for your poverty. You know in 
what manner you have treated me hitherto. This has 
caused me such grief and vexation, that but for the sup- 
port of the lady with whom you have placed me, I 
should have sunk under my despair. But at last, see- 
ing myself full-grown, and esteemed fair by every one 
but you, I began to feel so acutely the wrong you did 
me, that the love I had for you turned into natred, and 
the desire of pleasing you into that of revenging myself. 
While in this desperate mood, I had opportunity to see 
a prince, who, more obedient to the king than to love, for- 
sook me at a time when I was beginning to derive con- 
solation from an honourable love. After I had lost the 
prince, I found one who had no need to be at any pains 
to woo me, for his good looks, his deportment, and his 
excellent endowments, are enough to make him an 
object of interest to all women of sense At my solici- 
tation, and not at his own, he has loved me with such 
propriety that he has never asked of me anything incon- 
sistent with my honour. Though the little cause I have 
to love you might induce me to make light of my wedded 
faith, yet my love for God and my own honour have 
hitherto prevented me from doing anything I have 
need to confess, or which can make me apprehensive of 
infamy. I do not deny that, under pretence of going to 
say my prayers, I have retired as often as I could into a 
gardcrobe to converse with him ; for I have never con- 
fided the conduct of this affair to any one. Nor yet do 
I deny, that being in such a private place, and safe fr(im 
all suspicion, I have kissed him with more hearty good- 
will than I kiss you ; but may God never show me 

Second Jay.-] Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 5 1 

mercy if an}'thing else ever happened in our tetc-a-tetcs, 
or if he ever asked me for more, or my own heart ever 
harboured a thought of granting anything besides ; for 
I was so happy, that it seemed to me there could not be 
in the world a greater pleasure than that which I en- 

" But you, sir, who are the sole cause of my misfor- 
tunes, would you desire to be revenged for conduct of 
which you have so long been setting me an example, with 
this difference, that what you have done you have done 
without honour and without conscience ? You know, and 
I know too, that she whom you love does not content her- 
self with what God and reason command. Though the 
laws of men condemn to infamy women who love any 
others than their husbands, the law of God, which is in- 
finitely more venerable, and more august, condemns 
men who love any other women than their own wives. 
If the faults we have both committed be weighed in the 
balance, you will be found more guilty than I. You 
are a wise man ; you have age and experience enough 
to know evil, and shun it ; but I am young, and have no 
experience of the force and might of love. You have a 
wife who loves you, and to whom you are dearer than her 
own life ; and I have a husband who shuns me, hates 
me, and treats me with such harshness as he would not 
show to a servant woman. You love a woman in years, 
lean and lanky, and not so handsome as I am ; and I 
love a gentleman, younger than you, handsomer, and 
more agreeable. You love the wife of your best friend 
and the mistress of your sovereign, thus violating friend- 
ship and the respect you owe to both ; and I love a gen- 
tleman who has no other ties than his love for me. 
Judge now, sir, without partiality, which of us two is the 
more to be condemned or excused, I do not believe 

1^2 THE HEPTAMEROM OF THE [N,n>el 15. 

there exists a man of sense and knowledge of the world 
who would not give his verdict against you. seeing that 
I am young and ignorant, despised by you and loved by 
the handsomest and best-bred gentleman in France, and 
that notwithstanding all that, I love him only because I 
despair of being loved by you." 

Hearing such home truths as these delivered by the 
lips of a beautiful woman, with such grace and assur- 
ance that it was easy to see she did not think herself 
deserving of any punishment, the husband was so con- 
founded that he knew not what to reply, except that a 
man's honour and a woman's were different things. 
Nevertheless, as she swore that nothing criminal had 
taken place between her and her lover, it was not his 
intention to love her less ; but he begged that she 
would offend no more, and that they should both forgive 
and forget the past. She gave a promise to that effect, 
and, the reconciliation being effected, they went to bed 

Next morning an old demoiselle, who was greatly 
alarmed for her mistress's life, came to her bedside and 
said, " Well, madam, how do you find yourself .' "' " There 
is not a better husband in the world than mine," she re- 
plied, laughing, "for he believed me on my oath." In 
this way five or six days passed in apparent harmony 
between the married pair ; meanwhile, however, the 
husband, whose jealousy was not at all allayed had, his 
wife narrowly watched night and day ; but in spite of all 
this vigilance his spies could not hinder the lady from 
again entertaining her lover in a dark and very suspi- 
cious place. Nevertheless, she managed the matter so 
secretly, that no one could ever know the truth for cer- 
tain ; only some valet set a story afloat that he had 
found a gentleman and a lady in a stable which was 

Second day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 53 

under the chamber occupied by the mistress of the lady 
in question. Upon this doubtful evidence the husband's 
jealousy became so increased that he resolved to have 
the gallant assassinated ; and he assembled for that pur- 
pose a great number of relations and friends, who were 
to despatch him in case they met him. But it happened 
that one of the principal persons among the confeder- 
ates was an intimate friend of the man whose death they 
plotted ; and instead of surprising him, he put him fully 
on his guard ; and the gentleman was such a general 
favourite, and always had such a good escort of friends, 
that he did not fear his enemy ; nor was he ever as- 

He tho'Ught it right, however, to have a conference 
with the lady under whose protection his fair one re- 
sided, and who had never heard a word of the whole af- 
fair, for he had never spoken with the young lady in her 
presence. Going to a church where he knew that she 
was, he acquainted her with the husband's jealousy, and 
the design he had formed against his life, and told her 
that although he was innocent, he was resolved to go 
and travel in foreign countries, in order to extinguish 
the false report that was beginning to gather strength. 
The princess was greatly astonished at hearing such 
news, and vowed that the husband did very wrong to 
suspect so virtuous a woman as his wife, and one in 
whom she had never seen anything but virtue and pro- 
priety. However, considering the husband's influence, 
and in order to put an end to this scandalous report, she 
advised him to withdraw for some time, assuring him she 
would never believe any such idle fancies and suspi- 
cions. Furthermore, she advised him to speak to the 
husband before his departure. 

He took her advice, and meeting the husband in a 


gallery near the king's chamber, he said to him with an 
assured countenance, and with the respect due to a man 
of his rank, " I have all my life desired, monsieur, to 
render you service, and I learn that in return you laid 
wait, yesterday evening, for my life. I beg you to con- 
sider, monsieur, that although you have more power and 
authority than I, nevertheless I am a gentleman as well 
as you, and I should be very loth to part with my life 
for nothing. I entreat you also to consider that you 
have a virtuous wife, and if any one chooses to say the 
contrary, I will tell him that he foully lies. For my 
part, I am not conscious of having done anything that 
should give you cause for wishing me ill ; therefore, if 
it so please you, I will remain your obedient servant ; or 
if not, I am the king's, and that is enough for me." 

The husband replied, that true it was he had sus- 
pected him ; but he thought him so gallant a man that 
he would rather be his friend than his enemy ; and, tak- 
ing leave of him, hat in hand, he embraced him as a 
friend. You may imagine what was said by those who 
had been commissioned on the preceding evening to kill 
the gentleman, when they witnessed these demonstra- 
tions of esteem and friendship. The lover then set out 
on his travels ; but as he had less money than good 
looks, his mistress gave him a ring her husband had 
given her, worth three thousand crowns, which he pawned 
for fifteen hundred. 

Some time after his departure the husband waited 
on the princess, and begged leave for his wife to pass 
some months with one of his sisters. The princess was 
much surprised at this unexpected request, and pressed 
him so much to tell her the reason of it, that he par- 
tially explained it to her. The young lady then having 
taken her leave of her mistress and the whole court, 

Second d,iy.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. I^g 

without shedding tears, or showing the least sign of 
grief, set out for the place to which her husband chose 
to send her, under the care of a gentleman who had ex- 
press orders to watch her carefully, and above all, not to 
suffer her to speak on the road with the suspected per- 
son. Being aware of the nature of the orders given to 
her escort, she every day gave them alarms, and made 
game of their vigilance. On the day she began her 
journey, she fell in with a Cordelier on horseback, and 
chatted with him from dinner almost till bedtime. 
When they were within a good league of the inn, she 
said to him, " Here, father, are two crowns, for the con- 
solations you have afforded me : I have wrapped them 
in paper as you see, for otherwise I know you would not 
venture to touch them. Do me the favor to set off at a 
gallop across the country the moment you quit my side, 
and take care that you are not seen by the people about 
me. I say this for your good and for the obligation I 
am under to you." 

Off went the Cordelier accordingly ; and no sooner 
liad he gone, than she said to her attendants, " Good 
servants you are, forsooth, and very vigilant guards. 
Properly you fulfil the orders of your master who con- 
fided in you. The very person with whom you have 
been commanded not to suffer me to speak, has been 
conversing with me the whole day, and you have let him 
alone. You deserve the stick, and not wages." The 
gentleman to whose care the fair lady had been entrusted 
was so vexed at hearing this, that he could not answer 
her a single word. Taking two men with him, he set 
spurs to his horse and galloped after the Cordelier, who 
did his best to escape, seeing himself pursued ; but as 
they were better mounted they overtook him. The 
good father, who had no idea why they treated him in 


that manner, roared for mercy, and in suppliant humility 
took off his hood and remained bareheaded. They then 
perceived that he was not the person they had taken 
him for, and that their mistress had made fools of them ; 
which she did more cruelly still when they came back 
from their chase. " You are proper men," she said, *' to 
be entrusted with the care of women. You let them 
talk without knowing to whom, and then believing any- 
thing they choose to tell you, you go and insult God's 

After several other pranks as humorous as this, she 
reached the place of her destination, where her two sis- 
ters-in-law and the husband of one of them kept her in 
great subjection. ^ By this time the husband learned 
that her ring was pledged for fifteen hundred crowns. 
To save the honour of his wife and recover the ring, he 
sent her word to redeem it, and that he would pay the 
money. Caring nothing for the ring since her lover had 
the money for it, she wrote to him that her husband 
constrained her to reclaim it, and lest he should suppose 
that she loved him less than before, she sent him a 
diamond which her mistress had given her, and which 
she prized more than all her other jewels. Her lover 
cheerfully sent her the merchant's obligation, thinking 
himself well off to have fifteen hundred crowns and a 
diamond ; but glad above all things at being assured 
that his mistress loved him still. As long as the husband 
lived, they remained apart, and could only correspond in 
writing. Upon the husband's death, the lov^er, supposing 
that his mistress still retained the same feelings towards 
him which she had always professed, lost no time in 
demanding her hand in marriage ; but found that long 
absence had given him a rival who was preferred t'- him- 
self. He was so mortified at this, that, shunning aii 

Second day.\ Q UEEAT OF A" A VA RRK. \ 5 7 

intercourse with ladies, he wooed danger, and died at 
last, after having distinguished himself as much as ever 
young man did. 

This tale, ladies, in which our sex is not spared, con- 
veys this lesson to husbands : that wives of high spirit 
suffer themselves to be led astray by resentment and 
vindictiveness, rather than by the charms of love. The 
heroine of this novel long resisted that sweet passion, 
but at last gave way to her despair. A good woman 
should not do like her, for there is no excuse for a bad 
action. The more one is exposed to do wrong, the more 
virtue there is in overcoming one's self and doing well, 
instead of rendering evil for evil ; especially as the ill 
one thinks to do to another often recoils upon the doer. 
Happy those women in whom God manifests the virtues 
of chastity, meekness, and patience. 

" It strikes me, Longarine," said Hircan, " that the 
lady you have been telling us of was inspired by resent- 
ment more than by love ; for had she loved the gentle- 
man as much as she pretended, she would never have 
quitted him for another ; and therefore she may be 
called spiteful, vindictive, obstinate, and fickle." 

"You talk at your ease on such matters," said Enna- 
suite, " but you know not what a heart-break it is to love 
without being loved." 

*' It is true I have little experience in that way," said 
Hircan; "for only let a lady show the least coldness 
towards me, and at once I bid adieu to love and her." 

" That is all very well," said Parlamente, " for a man 
like you, who loves only his own pleasure ; but an up- 
right wife ought not to forsake her husband." 

"And yet," observed Simontault, " the fair one in 
question forgot for awhile that she was a woman ; for a 
man could not have revenged himself more signally." 

158 THE HEPTAMEROiV OF THE [Ahn'el id. 

" It is not fair," said Oisille, " to conclude from one 
instance of a naughty woman, that all others are like 

" You are all women, however," replied Saffredent ; 
" and however bravely adorned you may be, any one who 
looked carefully under your petticoats would find that 
you are so." 

" We should do nothing but wrangle all day, if we 
were to listen to you," said Nomerfide. " But I so long 
to hear another story, that I beg Longarine to call on 
some one." 

Longarine cast her eyes on Geburon, and said, " If 
you have a story to tell of some good lady, pray do so 

" Since you call upon me," replied Geburon, " I will 
relate to you a thing that happened at Milan." 


Of a Milanese lady who tested her lover's courage, and afterwards 

loved him heartily. 

When the Grand-Master of Chaumont was governor 
of Milan, there was a lady there who passed for one of 
the most respectable in the city. She was the widow of 
an Italian count, and resided with her brothers-in-law, 
not choosing to hear a word about marrying again. Her 
conduct was so correct and guarded that she was highly 
esteemed by all the French and Italians in the duchy. 
One day, when her brothers and sisters-in-law enter- 
tained the Grand-Master of Chaumont, the widow could 
not help being present, contrary to her custom of never 

S.rond day\ QUEEN OF NAl ARKE. l^g 

appearing at any festive meeting. The French could 
ndt see her without praising her beauty and her grace : 
one among them especially, whom I will not name. It 
is enough to inform you that there was not a Frenchman 
in Italy more worthy to be loved, for he was fully en- 
dowed with all the beauties and graces which a gentle- 
man could have. Though he saw the widow dressed in 
black crape, apart from the young people, and withdrawn 
into a corner with several old ladies, yet, being one who 
had never known what it was to fear man or woman, he 
accosted her, took off his mask, and quitted the dance to 
converse with her. He passed the whole evening with 
her and the old ladies her companions, and enjoyed him- 
self more than he could have done with the youngest and 
sprightliest ladies of the court. So charmed was he with 
this conversation, that when it was time to retire he 
hardly believed he had had time to sit down. Though 
he talked with the widow only upon common topics, 
suited to the company around her, she failed not to per- 
ceive that he was anxious to make her acquamtance, 
which she was so resolute to prevent, that he could 
never afterwards meet with her in any company, great 
or small. 

At last, having made inquiries as to her habits of 
life, and learned that she went often to the churches and 
religious houses, he set so many people on the watch 
that she could not go to any of those places so secretly 
but that he was there before her, and stayed as long as 
he could see her. He made such good use of his time, 
and gazed at her with such hearty good will, that she 
could not be ignorant of his passion ; and to prevent 
these encounters she resolved to feign illness for some 
time, and hear mass at home. This was a bitter morti- 
fication to the gentleman, for he was thus deprived of 

i6o THE HEPTAMEROX OF THE i\ovel \b 

his only means of seeing her. At last, when she thought 
she had baffled his plans, she returned to the churches 
as before, and Love took care forthwith to make this 
known to the gentleman, who then resumed his habits 
of devotion. Fearing lest she should throw some other 
obstacle in his way, and that he should not have time to 
make known to her what he fell., one morning, when she 
was hearing mass in a little chapel, where she thought 
herself snugly concealed, he placed himself at the end 
of the altar, and turning to her at the moment when the 
priest was elevating the host, said, in a voice of deep 
feeling, " I swear to you, madam, by Him whom the 
priest holds in his hands, that you are the sole cause of 
my death. Though you deprive me of all opportunity to 
address you, yet you cannot be ignorant of the passion I 
entertain for you. My haggard eyes and death-like 
countenance must have sufficiently made known to you 
my condition." The lady pretended not to understand 
him, and replied, " God's name ought not to be taken in 
vain ; but the poets say that the gods laugh at the oaths 
and falsehoods of lovers, wherefore women who prize 
their honour ought neither to be credulous nor pitiful." 
So saying, she rose and went home. 

Those who have been in the like predicament will 
readily believe that the gentleman was sorely cast down 
at receiving such a reply. However, as he did not lack 
courage, he thought it better to have met with a rebuff 
than to have missed an opportunity of declaring his love. 
He persevered for three years, and lost not a moment 
in which he could solicit her by letters and by other 
means ; but during all that time she never made him any 
other reply, but shunned him as the wolf shuns the 
mastiff ; and that not by reason of any aversion she felt 
for him, but because she was afraid of exposing her 

He managed so adroitly that he was in the lady's room 
at the moment appointed. 

Photographed from Life. 
Copyright, 1902, by U. Trenor. 

Second daj.] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 1 6 1 

honour and reputation. The gentleman was so well aware 
that there lay the knot of the difficulty, that he pushed 
matters more briskly than ever ; till, after a world of 
trouble, refusals, and sufferings, the lady was touched by 
his constancy, took pity on him, and granted him what 
he had so long desired and waited for. 

The assignation having been made, and the requisite 
measures concerted, the gentleman failed not to present 
himself at the rendezvous, at whatever risk of his life, 
for the fair widow resided with her relations. But as he 
was not less cunning than handsome, he managed so 
adroitly that he was in the lady's chamber at the moment 
appointed. He found her alone in a handsome bed ; but as 
he was undressing in eager haste, he heard whisperings 
outside the chamber-door, and the noise of swords clashing 
against the walls. " We are undone," cried the widow, 
more dead than alive. " Your life and my honour are in 
mortal peril. My brothers are coming to kill you. Hide 
yourself under the bed, I beseech you ; for then they 
will not find you, and I shall have a right to complain 
of their alarming me without cause." 

The gentleman, who was not easily frightened, coolly 
replied, " What are your brothers that they should make 
a man of honour afraid } If their whole race was as- 
sembled at the door, I am confident they would not stand 
the fourth lunge of my sword. Remain quietly in bed, 
therefore, and leave me to guard the door." 

Then wrapping his cloak round his left arm, and with 

his sword in his hand, he opened the door, and saw that 

the threatening weapons were brandished by two servant 

maids. " Forgive us, monsieur," they said. " It is by 

our mistress's orders we do this ; but you shall have 

no more annoyance from us." The gentleman, seeing 

that his supposed antagonists were women, contented 


1 62 THE NEPTA.UEKO.V OF THE [Noz<el i6. 

himself with bidding them go to the devil, and skimming 
the door in their faces. He then jumped into bed to his 
mistress without delay. Fear had not cooled his ardour, 
and without wasting time in asking the meaning of the 
sham alarm, bethought only of satisfying his passion. 

Towards daylight, he asked his bedfellow why she had 
so long delayed his happiness, and what was her reason 
for making her servants behave so oddly. " I had 
resolved," she said, laughing, " never to love ; and I 
have adhered to that resolution ever since I became a 
widow. But the first time you spoke to me, I saw so 
much to admire in you that I changed my mind, and 
began from that hour to love you as much as you loved 
me. It is true that honour, which has always been the 
ruling principle of my conduct, would not suffer love to 
make me do anything which might blemish my repu- 
tation. But as the stricken deer thinks to change its 
pain by change of place, so did I go from church to 
church, hoping to fly from him whom I carried in my 
heart, the proof of whose perfect love has reconciled 
honour with love. But to be thoroughly assured that I 
gave my heart to a man who was perfectly worthy of it, 
I ordered my women to do as they have done. I can 
assure you, if you had been frightened enough to hide 
under the bed, my intention was to have got up and gone 
into another room, and never have had anything more to 
do with you. But as I have found you not only comely 
and pleasing but also full of valour and intrepidity to a 
degree even beyond what fame had reported you ; as I 
have seen that fear could not appal you, nor in the least 
degree cool the ardour of your passion for me, I have re- 
solved to attach myself to you for the rest of my days ; 
being well assured that I cannot place my life and my 
honour in better hands than in those of him whom of 

Second day.] QUEEN' OF NAVAREE. 1 6* 

all men in the world I believe to be the bravest and the 

As if human will could be immutable, they mutually 
promised and vowed a thing which was not in their 
power — I mean, perpetual affection, which can neither 
grow up nor abide in the hearts of men, as those ladies 
know who have learned by experience what is the du- 
ration of such engagements. Therefore, ladies, if you 
are wise, you will be on your guard against us, as the 
stag would be against the hunter if the animal had reason, 
for our felicity, our glory, and delight is to see you cap- 
tured, and to despoil you of what ought to be dearer to you 
than life. 

" Since when have you turned preacher, Geburon ? " 
said Hirean. " You did not always talk in that fashion." 

" It is true," replied Geburon, " that I have all my life 
long held a quite different language ; but as my teeth are 
bad, and I can no longer chew venison, I warn the poor 
deer against the hunters, that I may make amends in my 
old age for the mischiefs I have desired in my youth." 

" Thank you, Geburon, for your warning," retorted 
Nomerfide, " but after all, we doubt that we have much 
reason to be obliged to you ; for you did not speak in that 
way to the lady you loved so much, therefore it is a proof 
that you do not love us, or yet wish that we should love. 
Yet we believe ourselves to be as prudent and virtuous 
as those you so long chased in your young days. But 
it is a common vanity of the old to believe that they 
have always been more discreet than those who come 
after them." 

* The hero of this novel is again Admiral de Bonnivet, as we 
learn from Brantome. 


" When the cajolery of one of your wooers," retorted 
Geburon, " shall have made you acquainted with the 
nature of men, you will then believe, Nomerfide, that I 
have told you the truth." 

" To me it seems probable," observed Oisille, " that 
the gentleman whose intrepidity you extol so highly 
must rather have been possessed by the fury of love, a 
passion so violent that it makes the greatest poltroons 
undertake things which the bravest would think twice 
of before attempting." 

" If he had not believed, madam," said Saffredent, 
" that the Italians are readier with their tongues than 
with their hands, methinks he must have been fright- 

" Yes," said Oisille, " if he had not had a fire in his 
heart which burns up fear." 

" Since you did not think the courage of this gentle- 
man sufficiently laudable," said Hircan, "I presume you 
know of some other instance which seems to you more 
worthy of praise." 

" It is true that this gentleman's courage deserves 
some praise," said Oisille, " but I know an instance of 
intrepidity that is worthy of higher admiration." 

" Pray tell us it then, madam," said Geburon. 

" If you so much extol," said Oisille, " the bravery of 
a man who displayed it for the defence of his own life 
and of his mistress's honour, what praise is too great for 
another, who, without necessity, and from pure valour, 
behaved in the manner I am about to relate ? " 

Second day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 165 


How King Francis gave proof of his courage in the case of Count 
Guillaume, who designed liis death. 

A German count named Guillaume, of the House of 
Saxe, to which that of Savoy is so closely allied that 
anciently the two made but one, came to Dijon, in Bur- 
gundy, and entered the service of King Francis. This 
count, who was considered one of the finest men in Ger- 
many, and also one of the bravest, was so well received 
by the king, that he not only took him into his service, 
but placed him near his person, as one of the gentlemen 
of his chamber. The Seigneur de la Tremouillc, Gov- 
ernor of Burgundy, an old knight and faithful servant of 
the king, being naturally suspicious and attentive to his 
master's interests, had always a good number of spies 
among his enemies to discover their intrigues ; and he 
conducted himself with such wariness that little escaped 
his notice. One day he received a letter, informing 
him among other things, that Count Guillaume had al- 
ready received certain sums of money with promises of 
more, provided he would have the king put to death in 
any way in which it could be done. The Seigneur de la 
Tremouille instantly communicated the intelligence to 
the king, and made no secret of it to Madame Louise of 
Savoy, his mother, who, putting out of consideration 
that she was related to the German, begged the king to 
dismiss him forthwith. Instead of doing so, the king 
begged Madame Louise to say no more about it, declar- 
ing It impossible that so gallant a man could be guilty 
of so villainous an act. 


Some time after, a second despatch was received, 
confirmatory of the former one. The governor, burn- 
ing with zeal for the preservation of his master's Hfe, 
begged permission of him either to expel the count from 
the realm, or to take precautionary measures against 
him ; but the king expressly commanded him to make 
no stn- in the matter, doubting not that he should come 
at the truth by some other means. 

One day, the king went to the chase, armed with 
no other weapon other than a very choice sword, and 
took Count Guillaume with him, desiring him to keep 
close up with him. After having hunted the stag for 
some time, the king, finding himself alone with Count 
Guillaume, and far from his suite, turned aside, and rode 
into the thick of the forest. When they had advanced 
some way he drew his sword, and said to the count, 
"What think you ? Is not this an excellent sword.?" 
The count, taking it by the point, rephed that he did 
not think he had ever seen a better. " You are right," 
rejoined the king ; " and it strikes me that if a gentle- 
man had conceived the design of kilUng me, and knew 
the strength of my arm, the boldness of my heart, and 
the temper of this good sword, he would think twice of 
it before he attacked me ; nevertheless, I should regard 
him as a great villain, if, being alone with me, man to 
man, he durst not attempt to execute what he had dared 
to undertake." 

" The villainy of the design would be very great, 
sire," replied the astounded count ; " but not less would 
be the folly of attempting to put it in execution." 

The king sheathed his sword with laugh, and, hear- 
ing the sound of the chase, set spurs to the horse, and 
galloped in the direction from which the sound came. 

When he rejoined his suite he said not a word of 


Second day. \ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 67 

what had passed, satisfied in his own mind that Count 
Guillaume, for all his vigour and bravery, was not the 
man to strike so daring a blow. The count, however, 
making no doubt that he was suspected, and greatly 
fearing a discovery, went the next day to Robertet, the 
secretary of finance, and told him that, on considering 
the profits and appointments the king had proposed to 
make him for remaining in his service, he found they 
would not be sufficient to maintain him for half the year ; 
and that, unless his majesty would be pleased to double 
them, he should be under the necessity of retiring. He 
concluded by begging that Robertet would ascertain the 
king's pleasure in the matter, and make him acquainted 
with it as soon as possible. Robertet said he would 
lose no time, for he would go that instant to the king : a 
commission which he undertook the more readily, as he 
had seen the information obtained by La Tremouille. 
As soon as the king was awake, Robertet laid his busi- 
ness before him, in presence of Monsieur de la Tre- 
mouille and Admiral de Bonnivet, who were not aware 
of what the king had done the day before. 

" You want to dismiss Count Guillaume," said the 
king, laughing, " and you see he dismisses himself. You 
may tell him, then, that if he is not satisfied with the 
terms he accepted when he entered my service, and 
which many a man of good family would think himself 
fortunate in having, he may see if he can do better else- 
where. Far from wishing to hinder him, I shaU be very 
glad to have him find as good a position as he deserves." 

Robertet was as prompt in carrying this reply to the 
count as he had been in laying the latter's proposals be- 
fore the king. " That being the case, I must retire from 
his majesty's service/' said the count. Fear made him 
so eager to be gone, that twenty-four hours sufficed for 


the rest. He took leave of his majesty as he was sitting 
down to table, and affected extreme regret at the neces- 
sity which compelled him to quit that gracious presence. 
He also took leave of the king's mother, who let him go 
with no less gladness than she had welcomed him as a 
kinsman and friend. The king, seeing his mother and 
his courtiers surprised at the count's sudden departure, 
made known to them the alarm he had given the coant, 
adding that even if he were innocent of what was laid to 
his charge, he had a fright sufficient to make him quit a 
master whose temper he did not yet know.* 

I see no reason, ladies, which could have obliged the 
king thus to expose his person against a man who was 
reckoned so formidable an adversary, had he not chosen, 
from mere greatness of soul, to quit the company in 
which kings find no inferiors to offer them simple com- 
bat, in order to put himself upon an equal footing with 
a man whom he regarded as his enemy, and to prove in 
person his daring and high courage. 

" He was certainly right," said Parlamente ; " for the 
praises of all mankind are not so satisfying to a great 
heart as its own experience of the virtues with which 
God has endowed it." 

" The ancients long ago represented," said Geburon, 
" that one cannot arrive at the temple of Fame without 
passing through that of Virtue. As I know the two 
persons of whom you have related this tale, I know per- 
fectly well that the king is one of the most intrepid men 
in his dominions." 

* The fact related in this novel have occurred in the forest 
of Argilly, in July, 1521, when Francis I. was at Dijon. The Ger- 
man count in question was Wilhelm von Furstemberg. He is the 
subject of the thirtieth chapter of Brantome's Capitaines Etran- 

Second day.] Q UEEN OF NA VARRE, 1 69 

" When Count Guillaume came to France," said Hir- 
can, " I should have been more afraid of his sword than 
of those of the best four among the ItaHans who were 
then at court." 

" We all know," said Ennasuite, " that all the praises 
we could bestow on the king would fall far short of his 
merits, and that the day would be gone before everyone 
should have said all he thinks of him. Therefore, 
madam, give your voice to some one who may again tell 
us something to the advantage of men, if any such thing 
there be." 

" I imagine," said Oisille to Hircan, " that as you are 
so much in the habit of speaking ill of women, you will 
not find it difficult to tell us something good of your own 

" That I can the more easily do," replied Hircan, 
" as it is not long since I was told a tale of a gentleman 
whose love, fortitude, and patience were so praiseworthy 
that I must not suffer their memory to be lost." 


A lady tests the fidelity of a young student, her lover, before 
granting him her favours. 

In a certain town in France there lived a young 
seigneur of good family, who was attending the schools, 
desiring to acquire the knowledge which endows those of 
quality with honour and virtue. Though he had already 
made such progress in his studies that at the age of sev- 
enteen or eighteen he was a pattern for other students, 
Love failed not, nevertheless, to teach him other les- 


sons. To make them more impressive and acceptable, 
that sly instructor concealed himself under the face and 
in the eyes of the handsomest lady in the country, who 
had come to town on business connected with a lawsuit. 
Before Love employed the charms of this lady to subju- 
gate the young seigneur, he had gained her heart by 
letting her see the perfections of the gentleman, who for 
good looks, pleasing manners, good sense, and a winning- 
tongue, was not surpassed by anyone. You who know 
what way this fire makes in a little time, when once it 
has begun to burn the outworks of a heart, will easily 
imagine that love was not long in rendering himself 
master of two such accomplished subjects, and so filling 
them with his light that their thoughts, wishes, and 
words were but the flame of tliat love. The natural 
timidity of youth made the gallant press his suit with all 
possible gentleness. But it was not necessary to do 
violence to the fair one, since love had already van- 
quished her. Modesty, nevertheless, that inseparable 
companion of the ladies, obliged her to conceal the sen- 
timents of her heart as long as she could. But at last 
the citadel of the heart, wherein honour has its dwelling, 
was so breached that the poor lady gave her consent to 
what she had never been loth to. Still, in order to put 
the patience, fortitude, and passion of her lover to the 
proof, she surrendered only on one very difficult condi- 
tion ; on his fulfilling which, she assured him that she 
would always love him most truly ; but if he failed in it, 
she would do quite the reverse. The condition she pro- 
posed was this : she would condescend to talk with him, 
both being in bed together en chemise, but he was to ask 
nothing of her beyond kisses and sweet words ; and he, 
thinking there was no joy comparable to that which she 
offered him, accepted the condition without hesitation. 

Second day.] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 1 7 1 

That night the compact was fulfilled. It was in vain 
she caressed him ; he would never break his word, how- 
ever sharply he felt the promptings of nature. Though he 
was fully assured that the pains of purgatory were not a 
whit worse than those he endured, yet his love was so 
great, and his hopes so strong, that, counting on the 
perpetual affection it cost him so much to secure, he 
triumphed by his patience, and got up from beside her 
just as he laid down. The fair one, more astonished, I 
rather think, than pleased at such extraordinary forbear- 
ance, took it into her head either that his love was not so 
great as he said, or that he had not found in her all the 
attractions he had expected ; for she made no account 
at all of the propriety, patience, and religious fidelity of 
her lover. She resolved, therefore, before she surrendered, 
to put the love he professed for her once more to the 
proof. To this end she requested him to gallant a girl 
she had in her service, one who was very good-looking, 
and much younger than herself, in order that persons who 
saw him come so often to her house might suppose that 
he came for the sake of the girl, and not of herself. The 
young seigneur, who flattered himself that he had inspired 
as much love as he harboured in his own bosom, did all 
that was required of him, and made love to the girl in 
obedience to her mistress's desire ; and the girl, pleased 
with the addresses of so handsome a youth, who had such 
a seductive tongue, believed all he said to he^-, and was 
in love with him in earnest. 

The mistress, seeing that things had come to this 
pass, and that her lover desisted none the more from 
pressing her to fulfil her promise, admitted to him that, 
after having put his love to such severe proofs, it was 
but just that she should recompense his constancy and 
submissiveness ; accordingly, she promised to meet him 


an hour after midnight. I need not tell you whether or 
not the impassioned lover was transported with joy, and 
was punctual to the assignation. But the fair one, in 
order to put the force of his passion to a new trial, said 
to her demoiselle, " I know the love of Seigneur Such-a- 
one for you, and I know that you are no less in love with 
him. I take such an interest in your happiness that I 
have resolved to contrive means for you both to enjoy a 
long conversation together in private and at your ease." 
The demoiselle was in such ecstasy that she could not 
dissemble her passion, and, in obedience to her mistress's 
directions, lay down alone on a handsome bed. The 
mistress then, leaving large candles lighted, the better 
to display the girl's beauty, and the door open, pretended 
to go away, but contrived to hide herself near the bed so 
cunningly that she could not be discovered. The lover, 
expecting to find her as she had promised, stole softly 
into the room at the appointed hour, shut the door, un- 
dressed, and got into bed. No sooner had he stretched 
out his arms to embrace his mistress, as he supposed, than 
the poor girl, who believed him to be all her own, threw 
her arms round his neck, and spoke to him with such 
affection, and with such a charming countenance, that 
there is not a holy hermit in the world but would have 
forgotten his paternosters for her sake. But when he 
recognized her form and her face, the love that had made 
him get so quickly into bed made him jump out of it still 
more hastily, on finding that his bedfellow was not 
she who had made him sigh so long. Vexed then alike 
with the mistress and the maid, " Your folly," he said, 
" and the malice of her who put you there, cannot make 
me other than I am. Try to be an honest woman ; for 
you shall not lose your good name through me." So 
saying, he flung himself out of the room in huge dudgeon, 


The poor girl, believing him to be all her own, threw 
her arms around his neck. 

Photographed from Life. 
Copyright, 1902, by D. Treuor. 

Second day.\ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 1 7 j 

and it was a long time before he again visited his mis- 

Love, however, who is never without hope, suggested 
to him that the greater his constancy, and the more it 
was made known by such decisive experiments, the 
longer and more blissful would be his enjoyment. The 
lady, who had witnessed all, was so delighted and so 
surprised at the excess and firmness of his love, that she 
was impatient to see him again, in order to make amends 
for the sufferings she had inflicted upon him in testing 
his affection. The moment she saw him she spoke to 
him so graciously, and with such tenderness, that he not 
only forgot all he had undergone, but even rejoiced at it, 
seeing that his mistress honoured his constancy, and was 
convinced of the sincerity of his love. He had no more 
disappointments to complain of ; his services and his 
love were crowned, and he obtained from the fair one 
thenceforth all his heart could wish for. 

Show me, ladies, if you can, a woman who has evinced 
the same firmness, patience, and fidelity in love as 
this gentleman. Those who have been exposed to the 
like temptations think those which painters assign to 
St. Anthony very trivial in comparison. For he who 
can be chaste and patient in spite of the temptations of 
beauty, love, opportunity, and the absence of all hind- 
rance, may rely on having virtue enough to overcome all 
the devils in hell. 

" It is a pity," said Oisille, "that the gentleman did 
not address his love to a lady as virtuous as himself ; it 
would then have been the most decorous and perfect I 
ever heard of." 

" Tell me," said Geburon, " which of this gentleman's 
two trials do you think was the more difficult .-* " 

174 THE HEPTAMEROM OF THE {_Nffvel \%. 

" The last, I think," said Parlamente ; " for resent- 
ment and anger are the most terrible of all temptations." 

Longarine said she thought that the first was the 
most arduous of the two ; for in order to keep his prom- 
ise, he had to be victorious over love and over himself. 

" You talk at random," said Simontault ; " but we, 
who know something about the matter, may be allowed 
to say what we think of it. For my part, I say that he 
was a fool the first time, and a blockhead the second. 
It is my belief that, in keeping his word to his mistress, 
he made her suffer as much as himself, or more. She 
only exacted that promise from him to make herself 
appear a better conducted woman than she really was ; 
for she could not but know that there is no com.mand, 
or oath, or anything else in the world, which is capable 
of stopping the headlong impulses of a violent love. She 
was very glad to cover her vice under an appearance of 
virtue, and make believe that she was accessible for 
nothing beneath a heroic virtue. He was a blockhead 
the second time to leave her who loved him, and was 
worth more than the other, especially when he had .so 
good an excuse as the provocation he had received." 

" I say quite the contrary," interrupted Dagoucin. 
" The first time he showed himself firm, patient, and a 
man of his word ; and the second time, faithful, and lov- 
ing to perfection." 

" And who knows," said Saffredent, "but he was one 
of those whom a chapter names de frigidis et male- 
ficiatisf* But that nothing might be wanting to the 

* This is an allusion to the penalties pronounced by several 
councils, and repeated in the Capitularies and the Decretals of Pope 
Boniface VIII., against those who were supposed guilty of having 
by magical practices deprived a bridegroom of the power of con- 
summating his nuptials. 

:iecondday:\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 1 75 

glory of this hero, Hircan ought to have acquainted us it" 
he did his duty when he got what he wanted. We should 
then have been able to judge whether he was so chaste 
through virtue or through impotence." 

" You may be sure," said Hircan, " that if I had been 
told this, I should not have concealed it any more than 
the rest. But knowing as I do the man and his temper- 
ament, I attribute his conduct to the force of his love, 
and not at all to impotence or coldness." 

" If that is the case," said Saffredent, " he ought to 
have laughed at his promise. Had the fair one been 
offended at his doing so, it would not have been very 
hard to appease her." 

" But, perhaps," said Ennasuite, " she would not then 
have consented." 

"That's a fine idea !" cried Saffredent. "Was he 
not strong enough to force her, since she had given him 
the opportunity .^ " 

" Holy Mary ! " exclaimed Nomerfide, " how you 
talk ! Is that the way to win the good graces of a lady 
who is believed to be chaste and modest } " 

" It seems to me," replied Saffredent, " that one can- 
not do more honour to a woman of whom one desires to 
have that sort of thing than to take it by force, for there 
is not the pettiest demoiselle of them all but dearly 
loves to be long wooed and entreated. There are some 
who can only be won by dint of presents ; others are so 
stupid that they are hardly pregnable on any side. With 
these latter, one must think of nothing but how to hit 
upon the means of having them. But when one has to 
do with a dame so wary that one cannot deceive her, 
and so good that she is not to be come at either by pres- 
ents or by fair words, is it not allowable to try all pos- 
sible means of success ? Whenever you hear that a man 


has forced a woman, you may be sure that she had left 
him no other means to accompHsh his ends ; and you 
ought not to think the worse of a man who has risked 
his Hfe to satisfy his love." 

" I have seen in my time," said Geburon, laughing, 
" places besieged and taken by storm, because there was 
no means of bringing the governors to terms either by 
money or threats ; for they say that a fortress which 
treats is half taken." 

" One would think," said Ennasuite, " that love is 
built only upon these follies. There have been many 
who have loved constantly with other intentions." 

" If you know one such instance," said Hircan, " tell 
it us." 

" I know one," said Ennasuite, " which I will willingly 


Two lovers, in despair at being hindered from marrjnng, turn monk 

and nun. 

In the time of the Marquis of Mantua, who had mar- 
ried the sister of the Duke of Ferrara, there was in the 
service of the duchess a demoiselle named Pauline, so 
much loved by a gentleman who was in the service of 
the marquis that everyone was surprised at the excess of 
his passion ; for being poor, but a handsome man, and, 
moreover, in great favour with the marquis, it was thought 
that he ought to attach himself to a lady who had wealth 
enough for them both : but he regarded Pauline as the 
greatest of all treasures, which he hoped to make his 

Second day.\ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 1 7 7 

own by marriage. The marchioness, who loved Pauline, 
and wished that she should make a wealthier match, dis- 
suaded her from this one as much as she could, and often 
hindered the lovers from seeing each other, telling them 
that if they married they would be the poorest and most 
miserable couple in Italy. But the gentleman could not 
admit the validity of this argument. Pauline, on her 
part, dissembled her love as much as she could ; but she 
only thought of it the more for all that. Their court- 
ship was long, and they hoped their fortune would mend 
in time. 

While they were awaiting this happy change, war 
broke out, and the gentleman was made prisoner, along 
with a Frenchman who was as much in love in his own 
country as the other was in Italy. Being fellows in mis- 
fortune, they began reciprocally to communicate their 
secrets. The Frenchman told his companion that his 
heart was captive, without saying to whom ; but as they . 
were both in the service of the Marquis of Mantua, the 
Frenchman knew that his comrade loved Pauline, and, 
having his interest at heart, advised him to abandon that 
connection. This the Itahan vowed it was impossible 
for him to do, and added that, unless the Marquis of 
Mantua, in recompense for his imprisonment and his 
good services, bestowed his. mistress upon him at his re- 
turn, he would turn Cordelier, and never serve any other 
master than God. The Frenchman, who saw in him no 
signs of religion, with the exception of his devotion to 
Pauline, could not believe that he spoke in earnest. At 
the end of nine months the Frenchman was set at lib- 
erty, and exerted himself to such effect that he procured 
that of his comrade also, who immediately on his libera- 
tion renewed his importunities to the marquis and the 

marchioness for their sanction to his marriage with Pau- 



line. It was in vain they represented to him the i)overty 
to which they would both be reduced ; the relations on 
both sides, whc would not consent to the match, forbade 
him to speak any more to Pauline, in hopes that absence 
and impossibility would cure him of his headstrong pas- 
sion : but all this was unavailing to change his feelings. 
Seeinof himself forced to submit, he asked leave of the 
marquis and marchioness to bid farewell to Pauline, 
after which he would see her no more, and his request 
was forthwith granted. 

" Since heaven and earth are against us," said he 
to Pauline when they met, " and we are not only forbid- 
den to marry, but even to see each other, the marquis 
and marchioness, our master and mistress, who exact 
such a cruel kind of obedience of us, may boast of hav- 
ing with one word smitten two hearts, whose bodies can 
henceforth only languish to death. By so unfeeling a 
mandate they plainly show that they have never known 
love or pity. I know well that their purpose is to see us 
both prosperously established in wealthy marriages ; but 
they know not that people are truly rich only when they 
are content. However, they have so wronged and in- 
censed me that it is impossible I should remain in their 
service. I have no doubt that if I had never talked of 
marrying you, they would not have carried their scruples 
so far as to forbid our speaking to each other ; but as for 
me, I can assure you that, having long loved you so hon- 
estly and truly, I shall continue to love you all my life. 
And forasmuch as seeing you I could not endure the 
monstrous hardship of not being allowed to speak to you, 
and not seeing you, my heart, which could not remain 
void, would be filled with a despair which might end 
fatally for me, I have for a long time resolved to retreat 
into the cloister. Not but that I well know one may 

Secofid ifay.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 1 79 

work out his salvation in any condition of life ; but [ 
believe that in these retreats one has more leisure to 
meditate on the greatness of the Divine goodness, which 
will have pity, I trust, on the faults of my youth, and dis- 
pose my heart to love the things of heaven as much as I 
have loved those of earth. If God gives me the grace to be 
able to obtain his, my continual occupation will be to pray 
for you. I entreat you, by the faithful and constant love 
we have borne to one another, to remember me in your 
prayers, and to beseech the Lord to give me as much 
constancy, when I cease to see you, as He gave me 
gladness in beholding you. As I have hoped all my life 
to have from you through marriage what honour and 
conscience allow, and have contented myself with that 
hope, now that I lose it, and can never be treated by you 
as a husband, I entreat that, in bidding me farewell, you 
will treat me as a brother, and let me kiss you." 

Poor Pauline, who had manifested rigour enough to- 
wards him, seeing the extremity of his grief and the reason- 
ableness of his request, which was so moderate under such 
circumstances, could only reply by throwing herself in 
tears on his neck. So overcome was she that speech, sense, 
and motion failed her, and she fainted in his arms, whilst 
love, sorrow, and pity produced the same effect on him. 
One of Pauline's companions, who saw them fall, called 
for help, and they were recovered by force of remedies. 
Pauline, who wished to hide her affection, was ashamed 
when she was aware how vehemently she had suffered it 
to display itself; however, she found a good excuse in 
the commiseration she had felt for the gentleman. That 
heart-broken lover, unable to utter the words, " Farewell 
for ever !" hurried away to his chamber, fell like a corpse 
on his bed, and passed the night in such bitter lamenta- 
tions that his servant supposed he had lost all his rela- 

l8o THE HEPTAMERON OF THE {Nffvel x<^ 

tions and friends, and all he was worth in the world 
Next morning he commended himself to our Lord, and 
after dividing the little he possessed among his domes- 
tics, only retaining a very small sum of money for his 
immediate use, he forbade his servants to follow him, 
and wended his way alone to the convent of the Observ- 
ance, to ask for the monastic habit, with the determina- 
tion of wearing none other as long as he lived. The 
warden, who had known him formerly, thought at first 
that he was joking, or that he himself was dreaming ; 
indeed, there was not a man in all the country who had 
less the look of a Cordelier, or was better gifted with 
the graces and endowments which one could desire to 
see in a gentleman. But after having heard him, and 
seen him shed floods of tears, the source of which was 
unknown to him, the warden kindly received him as a 
guest, and soon afterwards, seeing his perseverance, he 
gave him. the robe of the order, which the poor gentle- 
man received with great devotion. 

The marquis and marchioness were made acquainted 
with this event, and were so much surprised at it that 
they could hardly believe it. Pauline, to show that she 
was without passion, did her best to dissemble her regret 
for her lover, and succeeded so well that everybody said 
she had forgotten him, whilst all the time she would fain 
have fled to some hermitage, to shun all commerce with 
the world. But one day, when she went to hear mass at 
the Observance with her mistress, when the priest, the 
deacon, and the sub-deacon issued from the vestry to go 
to the high altar, her lover, who had not yet completed 
the year of his noviciate, served as acolyte, and led the pro- 
cession, carrying in both hands the two canettes covered 
with silk-cloth, and walking with downcast eyes. Pau- 
line, seeing him in that garb, which augmented rather 

Second day^ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. l8 1 

than diminished his good looks, was so surprised and 
confused that, to conceal the real cause of her heightened 
colour, she began to cough. At that sound, which he 
recognized better than the bells of his monastery, the 
poor lover durst not turn his head ; but as he passed 
before her, he could not hinder his eyes from taking the 
direction to which they had been so long used. Whilst 
gazing sadly on his mistress, the fire he had thought al- 
most extinct blazed up so fiercely within him that, mak- 
ing an effort beyond his strength to conceal it, he fell 
full leno-th on the floor. His fear lest the cause of this 
accident should be known prompted him to say that the 
floor of the church, which was broken at that spot, had 
thrown him down. Pauline perceived from this circum- 
stance that he had not changed his heart along with his 
habit ; and believing that, as it was now so long since 
he had retired from the world, everyone imagined she 
had forgotten him, she resolved to put into execution her 
long-meditated design of following her lover's example. 

Having now been more than fourteen months privily 
making all necessary arrangements previous to her tak- 
ing the veil, she one morning asked leave of the mar- 
chioness to go to hear mass at the convent of St. Claire. 
Her mistress granted this request without knowing why 
it was preferred. Calling at the Franciscan monastery 
on her way, Pauline begged the warden to let her see 
her lover, whom she called her relation. She saw him 
in private, in a chapel, and said to him, " If I could with 
honour have retired to the cloister as soon as you, I should 
have been there long ago. But now that by my patience 
I have prevented the remarks of those who put a bad 
construction upon everything rather than a good one, I 
am resolved to renounce the world, and adopt the order, 
habit, and life which you have chosen. If you fare well, 


I shall have my part ; and if you fare ill, 1 do not wish 
to be exempt. I desire to go to Paradise by the same 
road as you, being assured that the Being who is su- 
premely perfect, and alone worthy to be called Love, 
has drawn us to his service by means of an innocent 
and reasonable affection, which He will convert entirely 
to himself through His Holy Spirit. Let us both forget 
this perishing body, which is of the old Adam, to receive 
and put on that of Jesus Christ, who is our spirit." fl 

The cowled lover wept with joy to hear her express I 
such a holy desire, and did his utmost to confirm it. 
*' Since I can never hope for more than the satisfaction 
of seeing you," he said, " I esteem it a great blessing 
that I am in a place where I may always have oppor- 
tunity to see you. Our conversations will be such that 
we shall both be the better for them, loving as we shall 
do with one love, one heart, one mind, led by the good • 
ness of God, whom I pray to hold us in His good hands, 
in which no one perishes." So saying, and weeping 
with love and joy, he kissed her hands ; but she stooped 
her face as low as her hand, and they exchanged the 
kiss of love in true charity. 

From the Franciscan monastery, Pauline went 
straight to the convent of St. Claire, where she was re- 
ceived and veiled. Once there, she sent word to her 
mistress, who, hardly crediting such strange news, went 
to see her next day, and did all she could to dissuade her 
from her purpose. The only reply she received from 
Pauline was that she ought to be satisfied with having 
deprived her of a husband of fiesh, the only man in the 
world she had ever loved, without seeking likewise to 
separate her from Him who is immortal and invisible, 
which neither she nor all the creatures on earth could 
do. The marchioness, seeing her so strong in hei 


Second Jay] Q UEEN OF NA VARKE. 1 8 3 

pious resolution, kissed her, and left her in her convent 
with extreme regret. 

These two persons lived afterwards such holy and de- 
vout lives that it cannot be doubted that He whose law 
is charity said to them at the end of their course, as to 
Mary IMagdalen, " Your sins are forgiven, since you 
have loved so much," and removed them in peace to the 
blessed abode where the recompense infinitely surpassed 
all human merits. 

You cannot but own, ladies, that the man's love was 
the greater of the two ; but it was so well repaid that I 
would all those who love were so richly recompensed. 

" In that case, there would be more fools than ever," 
said Hircan. 

" Do you call it folly," said Oisille, " to love virtu- 
ously in youth, and then to centre all our love in God "t " 

" If despite and despair are laudable," replied Hircan, 
laughing, "then I must say that Pauline and her lover 
are worthy of high praise." 

" Yet God has many ways of attracting us to Him," 
said Geburon ; "and though their beginnings seem bad, 
their end is, nevertheless, very good." 

"I believe," said Parlamente, "that no one ever per- 
fectly loved God who did not perfectly love some of his 
creatures in this world." 

" What do you call loving perfectly ? " said Saffredent. 
" Do you believe that those enamoured cataleptics who 
worship ladies at a hundred paces' distance, without dar- 
ing to speak out, love perfectly .'' " 

"I call perfect lovers," replied Parlamente, "those 
who seek in what they love some perfection, be it good- 
ness, beauty, or charming demeanour ; who aim always at 
virtue, and whose hearts are so noble and so spotless that 


they would rather lose their lives than devote them to 
low things forbidden by honour and conscience ; for the 
soul which is created only to return to its sovereign 
good, so long as it is imprisoned in the body, does but 
long to arrive at that high destination. But because the 
senses, which can give its views thereof, are obscured 
and carnal since the sin of our first parents, they can only 
present to it those visible objects which approach nearest 
to perfection. In that, direction the soul rushes forth, 
and thinks to find in outward beauty, in visible graces, 
and in moral virtues, the supreme boauty, grace, and 
virtue. But after having sought and proved them, and 
not found what it loves, the soul lets them go, and passes 
on its way, like the child who loves apples, pears, dolls, 
and other trivial things, the handsomest it can see, and 
thinks that to amass little pebbles is to be wealthy ; but 
as it grows up it loves living dolls, and amasses things 
necessary to human life. After a longer experience has 
shown it that there is neither perfection nor felicity in 
the things of this earth, it seeks the true felicity, and 
Him who is its source and principle. Still, if God did 
not open the eyes of its faith, it would be in danger of 
passing from ignorance to infidel philosophy ; for it is 
faith alone that demonstrates and makes the soul receive 
that good which the carnal and animal man cannot know." 
" Do you not see," said Longarine, " that even the 
uncultivated ground, which produces only trees and use- 
less herbs, is, nevertheless, an object of desire, in the 
hope that when it is well cultivated and sown it will 
produce good grain ? In like manner, the heart of man, 
which is conscious only of visible things, will never ar- 
rive at the condition of loving God but through the seed 
of the Word ; for that heart is a sterile, cold, and cor- 
rupted soil." 

Sicond day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 185 

*' Thence it comes," said Saffredent, " that most doc- 
tors are not spiritual, because they never love anything 
but good wine and ugly sluts of chambermaids, without 
makino- trial of what it is to love honourable ladies." 

"If I could speak Latin well," said Simontault, " I 
would quote St. John to you, who says, ' He who loves 
not his brother whom he sees, how shall he love God 
whom he doth not see ? ' In loving visible things, one 
comes to love things invisible." 

" Tell us where is the man so perfect as you describe, 
et laudabivius emn," said Ennasuite. 

" There are such men," replied Dagoucin ; " men 
who love so strongly and so perfectly that they would 
rather die than entertain desires contrary to the honour 
and conscience of their mistresses, and who yet would 
not have either them or others be aware of their sen- 

" These men are like the chameleon, who lives on 
air," observed Saffredent. "There is no man in the 
world but is very glad to have it known that he loves, and 
delighted to know that he is loved. Also, I am convinced, 
that there is no fever of affection so strong but passes 
off as soon as one knows the contrary. For my part, I 
have seen palpable miracles in that way." 

" I beg, then, said Ennasuite, " that you will take 
my place, and tell us a story of some one who has been 
restored from death to life by having discovered in his 
mistress the reverse of what he desired." 

" I am so much afraid," said Saffredent, " of displeas- 
ing the ladies, whose most humble servant I have always 
been, and always shall be, that without an express com- 
mand I should not have dared to speak of their imper- 
fections. But, in token of obedience, I will speak the 

i86 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \N<rvel 20. 


A gentleman finds his mistress in the arms of her groom, and is 
cured at once of his love. 

At one time there lived in Dauphine a gentleman 
named the Seigneur De Riant, of the household of King 
Francis I., and one of the best-looking and best-bred 
men of his day. He paid his court for a long time to a 
widow, whom he loved and respected so much that, for 
fear of losing her good graces, he durst not ask of her 
that which he longed for with the utmost passion. As 
he was conscious of being a handsome man and well 
worthy of being loved, he firmly believed what she often 
swore to him — namely, that she loved him above all men 
in the world ; and that if she were constrained to do any- 
thing for any one, it would be for him alone, who was 
the most accomplished gentleman she had ever known. 
She begged he would content himself with this, and not 
attempt to exceed the limits of decorous friendship, as- 
suring him that, upon the least symptom of his craving 
anything more, she should be lost to him for ever. 

The poor gentleman not only contented himself with 
these fine words, but even deemed himself happy in 
having won the heart of a person he believed to be so 
virtuous. It would be an endless affair to give you a 
circumstantial detail of his love, of the long intercourse 
he had with her, and of the journeys he made to see her. 
Enough to say that this poor martyr to a fire so pleasing 
that the more one is burned by it the more one likes to 
be burned, daily sought the means of aggravating his 

Second day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 187 

martyrdom. One day he was seized with a desire to 
travel post to see her whom he loved better than him- 
self, and whom he prized above all the women in the 
world. On arriving at her house he asked where she 
was. They told him she had just come back from ves- 
pers, and was gone to take a turn in the warren to finish 
her devotions. He dismounts, goes straight to the war- 
ren, and meets her woman, who tells him that she is 
gone to walk alone in the great alley. Upon this he be- 
gan to hope more than ever for some good fortune, and 
continued to search for her as softly as possible, desiring 
above all things to steal upon her when she was alone. 
But on coming to a charming pleached arbour, in his 
impatience to behold his adored, he darted into it ab- 
ruptly, and what did he see then but the lady stretched 
on the grass, in the arms of a groom, as ugly, nasty, and 
disreputable as De Riant was all the reverse. I will not 
pretend to describe his indignation at so unexpected a 
spectacle ; I will only say it was so great that in an in- 
stant it extinguished his long-cherished flame. " Much 
good may it do you, madam," said he, as full of resent- 
ment as he had been of love. " I am now cured and 
delivered of the continual anguish which your fancied 
virtue had caused me;" and without another word, he 
turned on his heel and went back faster than he had 
come. The poor woman had not a word to say for her- 
self, and could only put her hands over her face, that as 
she could not cover her shame she might at least cover 
her eyes, and not see him who saw her but too plainly, 
notwithstanding her long dissimulation. 

So, ladies, unless you choose to love perfectly, never 
think of dissembling with a proper man, and giving him 
displeasure for sake of your own glory ; for hypocrisy is 

1 88 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [Navel 20. 

paid as it deserves, and God favours those who love 

•'It must be confessed," said Oisille, " that you have 
kept something good in reserve for us to the end of the 
day. If we were not pledged to tell the truth, I could 
not believe that a woman of such a station could have 
forgotten herself so much as to quit so handsome a 
gentleman for a nasty groom." 

" If you knew, madam,'" replied Hircan, " the dif- 
ference there is between a gentleman who has all his life 
worn harness and followed the army, and a servant who 
has led a sedentary life and been well fed, you would 
excuse this poor widow." 

" Say what you will," rejoined Oisille, " I doubt that 
you would admit any excuse for her." 

" I have heard," said Simontault, " that there are 
women who are very glad to have apostles to preach up 
their virtue and their chastity ; they treat them with the 
most gracious kindness and familiarity, and assure them 
they would grant them what they sue for, did conscience 
and honour permit it. When the poor dupes are in com- 
pany they talk of these excellent ladies, and swear they 
would put their hands in the fire if they are not women 
of virtue, relying on the proof they think they have per- 
sonally obtained for their assertion. But the ladies thus 
praised by these simple gentlemen show themselves in 
their real colours to those who are like themselves, and 
choose for the objects on whom they bestow their favours 

* This is a very old story, though told by the Queen of Navarre 
with name and date, as one of her own time. It occurs in the in- 
troduction to the Arabian Nights, in the eighteenth canto of the 
Orlando Furioso, and in the novels of Morlini, the first edition of 
which was printed at Naples in 1520. La Fontaine has put it at 
the beginning of his tale of Joconde. 

Second day. \ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 1 89 

men who have not the boldness to tell tales, and of so 
abject a condition that, even were they to blab, they 
would not be believed." 

" I have heard the same thing said before by extrava- 
gantly jealous folk," said Longarine. " But surely this 
is what may be called painting a chimera ; for though 
such a thing may have happened to one wretched woman, 
is it thence to be inferred that all women do the same 

thmg ? " 

" The more we talk on this subject," said Parlamente, 

" the more we shall be maligned. We had better go 

hear vespers, that we may not keep the monks waiting 

for us as we did yesterday." 

This proposal was unanimously agreed to. 

" If anyone," said Oisille, as they were walking back 
to the monastery, " gives thanks to God for having told 
the truth to-day, Saffredent ought to implore his pardon 
for having told such a villanous tale against the ladies." 

" I give you my oath," said Saffredent, " that although 
I have only spoken upon hearsay, what I have told you 
IS, nevertheless, the strict truth. But if I choose to tell 
you what I could relate of women from my own knowl- 
edge, you would make more signs of the cross than they 
do in consecrating a church." 

" Since you have so bad an opinion of women," said 
Parlamente, " they ought to banish you from their 

" There are some who have so well practised what 
you advise," he replied, " that if I could say worse of 
them, and do worse to them all, to excite them to avenge 
me on her who does me so much injustice, I should not 
be slow to do so." 

While he was speaking, Parlamente put on her half- 
mask and went with the rest into the church, where they 

190 'J'HE HEPTAMERON OF THE [Novel 20. 

found that although the bell had been rung for vespers 
there were no monks to say them. The fathers had been 
apprised of the agreeable manner in which the company 
spent their time in the meadow, and being fonder ot 
pleasure than of their prayers, they had gone and 
crouched down there in a ditch behind a very thick 
hedge, and had listened to the tales with so much atten- 
tion that they had not heard the vesper-bell. The conse- 
quence was that they came running in with such haste 
that they were quite out of breath when they should 
have begun vespers. After service, some of the company 
inquiring of them why they had come in so late and 
chanted so badly, they confessed the cause ; and for the 
future they were allowed to listen behind the hedge, and 
to sit at their ease. The supper was a merry one ; and 
during it were uttered such things as any of the com- 
pany had forgotten to deliver in the meadow. This 
filled up the rest of the evening, until Oisille begged them 
to retire, that they might prepare for the morrow, saying 
that an hour before midnight was better than three after 
it. There upon they sought their respective chambers, 
and so ended the second day. 

Third day. ] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. ,o , 


Early as it was next morning when the company- 
assembled in the refectory, they found Madame Oisille 
already there. She had been meditating for half an hour 
on what she was to read to them ; and so mtent were 
they upon listening to her that they did not hear the 
bell, and a monk had to come and tell them that hish 
mass was about to begm. After hearing mass and din- 
ing soberly, in order to have their memories more clear, 
they all retired to their chambers to review their several 
repertories of tales previously to the next meeting in the 
meadow. Those who had some droll story to tell were 
already so merry that one could not look in their faces 
without being prepared beforehand for a hearty laugh. 
When all were seated, they asked Saffredent to whom he 
addressed his call. "The fault I committed yesterday," 
he said, " being as you say so great, and knowing not 
how to repair it, I call on Parlamente. Her excellent 
sense will enable her to praise the ladies in such a 
manner as will make you forget the truth I have told 

'' I do not undertake to repair your faults," replied 
Parlamente ; " but I will take good care not to imitate 
them. To this end, without departing from the truth 
we have pledged ourselves to speak, I will show you that 
there are ladies who in their love have had no other end 
in view than virtue and honour. As the lady of whom I 
have to speak is of a good family, I will change nothing 
in her story but the names. You will see, ladies, from 
what I am going to narrate, that love can make no 
change in a chaste and virtuous heart." 

193 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \_Novel 2\. 


Virtuous love of a young lady of quality and a bastard of an illus- 
trious house — Hindrance of their marriage by a queen — Sage 
reply of the demoiselle to the queen — Her subsequent mar- 

There was a queen in France who had in her house- 
hold several young ladies of good birth, and among the 
rest one named Rolandine, who was her near relation. 
But the queen, being displeased with this young lady's 
father, punished the innocent for the guilty, and behaved 
not very well to Rolandine. Though this young lady 
was neither a great beauty nor the reverse, such was the 
propriety of her demeanour and the sweetness of her 
disposition, that many great lords sought her in mar- 
riage, but obtained no reply, for Rolandine's father was 
so fond of his money that he neglected the establish- 
ment of his daughter. On the other hand, she was so 
little in favour of her mistress that she was not wooed by 
those who wished to ingratiate themselves with the 
queen. Thus, through the negligence of her father and 
the disdain of her mistress, this poor young lady remained 
long unmarried. At last she took this sorely to heart, 
not so much from eagerness to be married, as from 
shame at not being so. Her grief reached such a pitch 
that she forsook the pomp and mundane pursuits of the 
court to occupy herself only with prayer and some little 
handiworks. In this tranquil manner she passed her 
youth, leading the most blameless and devout of lives. 

When she was approaching her thirtieth year, she 
became acquainted with a gentleman, a bastard of an 

nirdday.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 1 93 

illustrious house, and one of the best-bred men of his 
day, but ill endowed by fortune, and of so little comeli- 
ness that no one but herself would have readily chosen 
him for a lover. As this poor gentleman had remained 
solitary like herself, and as the unfortunate naturally 
seek each other's society, he one day accosted Rolan- 
dine. There being a strong similitude between them in 
point of temperament and fortune, they poured their 
griefs into each other's ears, and that was the beginnin-g 
of a very intimate friendship between them. Seeing 
that they both laboured under the same misfortune, they 
everywhere sought each other out for mutual consola- 
tion, and thus they became more and more attached to 
each other to an extraordinary degree. Those who had 
known Roland ine so coy that she would hardly speak to 
anyone were shocked to see her every moment with the 
bastard, and told her gouvernante that she ought not to 
permit such long conversations. The gouvernante spoke 
to Rolandine on the subject, telling her that it was taken 
amiss that she should be on such familiar terms with a 
man who was neither rich enough to marry her, nor good- 
looking enough to beloved. Rolandine, who had hitherto 
been reproved for her austerity rather than for her 
mundane ways, replied, " You see, mother, that I cannot 
have a husband of my own quality. I have hitherto 
always attached myself to the young and good-looking ; 
but as I am afraid of falling into the pit into which I 
have seen so many fall, I now attach myself to this 
gentleman, who, as you know, is so correct and so vir- 
tuous that he never talks to me but of seemly things. 
What harm, then, do I do to you, and to those who make 
a talk about it, consoling my sorrows by means of an 
innocent converse .-* " 

The poor woman, who loved her mistress more than 


194 T^HE HEPTAMERON OF THE \N(rvel 2\ 

herself, made answer, " I see plainly, mademoiselle, that 
you are right, and that your father and your mistress do 
not treat 3'ou as you deserve. But since this acquaint- 
ance gives rise to remarks which are not to the advan- 
tage of your honour, you ought to break it off, though 
the man were your own brother." 

" I will do so, since such is your advice," replied 
Rolandine, weeping, " but it is very hard to have no con- 
solation in the world." 

The bastard came to see her as usual, but, with tears 
in her eyes, she related to him in detail all that her gouv- 
ernante had said to her, and begged him not to visit 
her any more until this tattle should have subsided ; and 
he complied with her entreaty. Both of them having 
lost their consolation through this separation, they began 
to feel an uneasiness such as neither had ever before 
experienced. Her whole time was spent in prayer, 
fasting, and journeying ; for the sentiment of love, so 
totally new to her, caused her such agitation that she did 
not know a moment's rest. The bastard was not in a 
much better plight ; but as he had made up his mind to 
love her and try to obtain her for a wife, and saw that it 
would be a very glorious thing for him to succeed in the 
attempt, his only thought was how he should press his 
suit, and how he should secure the gouvernante in his 
interest. To this end he represented to her the deplor- 
able condition of her mistress, who was wilfully deprived 
of all consolation. The good woman thanked him with 
tears for the interest he took in her mistress's welfare, 
and cast about \vith him for means to enable him to 
have an interview with her. It was arranged between 
them that Rolandine should pretend to be troubled with 
a headache, which made all noise insupportable to her; 
and that when her companions left her in her chamber, 

Third day \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. loe 

the bastard and she might remain alone, and converse 
together without restraint. The bastard, dehghted with 
the expedient, gave himself up entirely to the guidance 
of the gouvernante, and in this way he was enabled to 
talk with his mistress whenever he pleased. 

But this pleasure was not of long duration ; for the 
queen, who disliked Rolandine, asked what she was doing 
in her chamber. Some one replied that she had a head- 
ache ; but somebody else, cither disliking her absence 
or wishing to cause her annoyance, said that the pleasure 
she took in conversing with the bastard would be sure 
to cure her headache. The queen, who regarded as 
mortal sins in Rolandine what would have been venial 
sins in others, sent for her, and forbade her ever to speak 
to the bastard, except in her own chamber or hall. 
Rolandine professed obedience, and replied, that had she 
known that the bastard, or anyone else, was displeasing 
to her majesty, she would never have spoken to him. 
At the same time, she was inwardly resolved to find out 
some other expedient, of which the queen should know 
nothing. As she fasled on Wednesdays, Fridays, and 
Saturdays, and did not quit her chamber, she took care 
to be visited on those days by the bastard, whom she 
was beginning to love greatly, and had time to talk with 
him in presence of her gouvernante whilst the others 
were at supper. The less time they had at their disposal, 
the more fervid and impassioned was their language ; for 
they stole the time for mutual conversation, as the thief 
steals something precious. But there is no secret which 
is not found out at last. A varlet, having seen the 
bastard come in one day, mentioned it in a place where 
it failed not to be repeated, till it reached the ears of the 
queen, who put herself into such a towering passion that 
the bastard never afterwards durst enter the chamber of 

igS r//E /fEPTA.1f£/!0J^ OJ^- TJYE [A^c^c/ zi. 

the demoiselles. He often pretended lo go a journey, in 
order to have opportunity to see the object of his affec- 
tions, and every evening he used to return to the chapel 
of the chateau, dressed sometimes as a Cordelier, some- 
times as a Jacobin, and always so well disguised that no 
one knew him except Rolandine and her gouvernante, 
who failed not at once to accost the good father. 

The bastard, feeling assured that Rolandine loved 
him, did not scruple to say to her one day, " You see, 
mademoiselle, to what I expose myself for your service, 
and how the queen has forbidden you to speak to me. 
You see, too, that nothing is farther from your father's 
thoughts than disposing of you in marriage. He has 
refused so many good offers that I know no one far or 
near who can have you. I know that I am poor, and that 
you could not marry a gentleman who was not richer 
than myseif ; but if to have a great deal of love were to 
be rich, I should think myself the most opulent man in 
the world. God has given you great wealth, and the ex- 
pectation of still greater. If I were so happy as to be 
chosen by you for your husband, I would be all my life 
your spouse, your friend, and your servant. If you 
marry one who is your own equal — and such a one, I 
think, will not easily be found — he will insist on- being 
the master, and will have more regard to your werJtli 
than to your person, to beauty than to virtue ; he will 
enjoy your wealth, and will not treat you as you deserve. 
My longing to enjoy this contentment, and my fear that 
you will have none with another, oblige me to entreat 
that you will make me happy, and yourself the best- 
satisfied and best-treated wife in the world." 

Rolandine, hearing from her lover's lips the declara- 
tion she had made up her mind to address to him, re- 
plied, with a glad face, •' I rejoice that you have antio 

Third day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. igy 

ipated me, and have said to me what I have long re- 
solved to say to you. Ever since I have known you, 
now two years, not a moment has passed in which I 
have not thought over all the arguments that could be 
adduced in your favour and against you ; but at last, 
having resolved to engage in matrimony, it is time that 
I should make a beginning, and choose the man with 
whom I think I can pass my life with most quiet and 
satisfaction. I have had as suitors men of good figure, 
wealthy, and of high birth ; but you are the only one 
with whom it seems to me that my heart and mind can 
best agree. I know that in marrying you I do not of- 
fend God, but that, on the contrary, I do what he com- 
mands. As for my father, he has so much neglected 
the duty of establishing me, and has rejected so many 
opportunities, that the law empowers me to marry with- 
out his having a right to disinherit me ; but even should 
I have nothing but what belongs to myself, I shall 
esteem myself the happiest woman in the world in 
having such a husband as you. As for the queen, 
my mistress, I need make no scruple of disobeying 
her to obey God, since she has not scrupled to frustrate 
all the advantages that offered themselves to me dur- 
ing my youth. But to prove to you that my love 
for you is founded on honour and virtue, I require 
your promise that, in case I consent to the marriage you 
propose, you will not ask to consummate it until after 
the death of my father, or until I shall have found means 
to obtain his consent." 

The bastard having promised this with alacrity, they 
gave each other a ring in pledge of marriage, and ex- 
changed kisses in the church before God, whom they 
called to witness their mutual promise ; and never after- 
wards was there anything between them of a more inti- 


mate nature than kisses. This slight satisfaction quite 
contented these two perfect lovers, who were a long time 
without seeing each other, or ever giving way to mutual 
suspicion. There was hardly a place where honour 
was to be acquired to which the bastard did not repair, 
being assured that he could never be poor, since God 
had bestowed on him a rich wife ; and she, during his 
absence, so faithfully preserved that perfect affection for 
him, that she made no account of any other man. There 
were some who sought her in marriage, and had for 
answer that, having been so long unmarried, she was 
resolved to remain so forever. This reply obtained such 
publicity that it reached the ears of the queen, who 
asked her the reason of such language. Rolandine re- 
plied that it was dictated by obedience ; that she well 
knew her majesty had never chosen to marry her when 
very advantageous matches had offered ; and that age 
and patience had taught her to be content with her 
present condition. Whenever marriage was mentioned 
to her, she always replied to the same effect. 

The war being ended, and the bastard having re- 
turned to court, she did not speak to him before others, 
but always in the church under pretext of confession, 
for the queen had forbidden both of them, on pain of 
their lives, ever to converse except in public. But vir- 
tuous love, which fears no prohibitions, was more ingeni- 
ous m suggesting to them means and opportunity to meet 
and converse than their enemies in hindering them. 
There was no monastic habit which the bastard did not 
successively assume; and by that means their inter- 
course was always agreeably maintained, until the king 
went to one of his country seats near Tours, which was 
so situated that the ladies could not go on foot to any 
other church than that of the chateau, which had such 

Third day. \ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. I gg 

an exposed confessional that the confessor would have 
easily been recognized. But as often as one opportu- 
nity failed them, love furnished them with another. At 
that very time there came to the court a lady nearly 
related to the bastard. She and her son were lodged in 
the king's residence ; and the young prince had a pro- 
jecting chamber, detached as it were from the king's 
apartments, and so placed that from his window one 
could see and speak to Rolandine, their windows being 
exactly at the angle of the main building and the wing. 
The chamber which was over the king's hall was that 
of Rolandine and the other ladies of honour. Rolan- 
dine, having frequently seen the young prince at the 
window, sent word of the fact by her gouvernante to the 
bastard. The latter, having reconnoitred the ground, 
pretended to take great pleasure in reading the book of 
the Knights of the Round Table, which was one of 
those belonging to the prince ; and towards dinner-hour 
he used to beg a valet-de-chambre to let him in, and 
leave him shut up in the chamber to finish reading his 
book. The valet, knowing him to be his master's rela- 
tion, and a gentleman to be trusted, let him read as 
much as he pleased. Rolandine, on her part, used to 
come to her window, and in order to be free to remain 
there the longer, she pretended to have a sore leg ; and 
she took her meals so early that she had no need to go 
to the table of the ladies of honour. She also bethought 
her of working at a crimson silk coverlet, which she 
hung at the window, where she was very glad to be left 
alone to converse with her husband, who spoke in such 
a manner that no one could overhear them. When he 
saw anyone coming she coughed, and made signs to the 
bastard to retire. Those who had orders to watch them 
were persuaded that there was no love between them, 


for she never quitted a chamber in which he certainly 
ceuld not see her, the entree being forbidden him. 

The mother of the young prince, being one day in 
her son's chamber, placed herself at the window where 
lay the big book. Presently one of Rolandine's com- 
panions in office, who was at the window of their cham- 
ber, saluted the lady. The latter asked her how Rolan- 
dine was. The other replied that she should see her if 
she pleased, and made her come to the window in her 
nightcap. After some conversation about Rolandine's 
illness, both parties retired. The lady casting her eyes 
on the big book of the Round Table, said to the valet- 
de-chambre who had charge of it, " I am astonished that 
young people give up their time to reading such follies." 
The valet-de-chambre replied that he was still more sur- 
prised that persons of ripe years, and who passed for 
sensible people, were more attached to them than the 
young ; and thereupon he told her, as a curious fact, 
how the bastard, her relation, spent four or five hours 
every day in reading that book. The lady at once 
guessed the reason, and ordered the valet-de-chambre to 
conceal himself, and watch narrowly what the bastard 
did. The valet-de-chambre executed his commission, 
and found that, instead of reading, the bastard planted 
himself at the window, and that Rolandine came and 
talked with him. He even overheard many expressions 
of their love, which they thought they had so well con- 
cealed. Next day, the valet having told his mistress 
what he had seen and heard, she sent for her cousin, the 
bastard, and after some sharp remonstrances, forbade 
him evermore to place himself at that window. In the 
evening she spoke to Rolandine, and threatened she 
would inform the queen if she persisted in that foolish 
attachment. Rolandine, without losing her presence of 

Third dciy:[ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 20I 

mind, replied that, whatever the lady might have been 
tola, she had not spoken to the bastard since she had 
been prohibited from doing so by her mistress, as her 
companions and her servants could witness. As for 
the window of which the lady spoke, she had never 
talked there with the bastard. 

The lover, now fearing lest his intrigue should be 
exposed, withdrew from the danger, and absented him- 
self for a long time from court, but not without writing 
to Rolandine, which he managed to do with such ad- 
dress that, in spite of all the queen could do, Rolandine 
heard from him twice a week. In the first instance he 
employed a monk to convey his letters ; but this means 
failing, he sent a little page, dressed sometimes in one 
colour, sometimes in another. The page used to post 
himself at the places through which the ladies passed, 
and, mingling with the other servants, found means al- 
ways to deliver his letters to Rolandine. The queen 
going into the country, one of those persons whom she 
had charged to be on the watch regarding this affair rec- 
ognized the page, and ran after him ; but the page, 
who was a cunning lad, darted into the house of a poor 
woman, who was boiling her pot, and instantly thrust 
his letters into the fire. The gentleman who pursued 
him, having caught and stripped him naked, searched him 
all over, but, finding nothing, let him go. When the 
page was gone, the good woman asked the gentleman 
why he had searched the poor boy in that manner. He 
replied that it was because he believed the boy had let- 
ters about him. " You were not likely to find them," she 
said : " he had hidden them too well." " Where, pray .''" 
inquired the gentleman, who now made sure of having 
them. He was quite confounded when he heard that they 
were burnt, and saw that the page had been too clever 

2 02 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \Novel z\. 

for him. However, he went at once and told the queen 
what he had ascertained. 

The bastard, not being able to employ the page any 
more, sent in his stead an old domestic, who, without 
caring for the threats of death which he well knew the 
queen had proclaimed against all who should meddle in 
this affair, undertook to convey the letters to Rolandine. 
Having entered the chateau, he stationed himself at a 
door which was at the foot of a great staircase used by 
all the ladies, but a valet, who had formerly known him, 
recognized him at once, and denounced him to the queen's 
maitre d' hotel, who gave orders for his instant arrest. 
The wary servant, seeing that he was watched, turned 
to the wall, under a certain pretence, tore his letters 
into the smallest possible pieces, and threw them behind 
the door. Immediately afterwards he was arrested and 
searched, but nothing being found on him, he was interro- 
gated upon oath as to whether he had not carried letters. 
Nothing was left untried in the way of promises or 
threats to make him confess the truth, but, in spite of 
all they could do, they could never get anything out of 
him. The unsatisfactory result was reported to the 
queen ; but some one having thought of looking behind 
the door found there the fragments of the letters. The 
king's confessor was sent for ; and having arranged all 
the pieces on a table, he read the whole of the letter, in 
which the secret marriage was plainly revealed, for the 
bastard called Rolandine his wife. The queen, who was 
not of a humour to conceal her neighbour's fault, made 
a great noise about the matter ; and insisted on every 
means being employed to make the man confess the 
truth respecting the letter, the identity of which he 
could not deny ; but say to him or show him what they 
would, there was no possibility of making him avow anvv 

Third day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 203 

thins:. Those who had been commissioned in this mat- 
ter took him to the edge of the river, and put him into a 
sack, telUng him that he lied to God and the queen, con- 
trary to the proved truth. Choosing rather to die than 
to betray his master, he asked for a confessor, and after 
having set his conscience right, he said to them, " I pray 
you, sir, to tell the bastard, my master, that I commend to 
him my wife and my children, and that I die with a good 
heart for his service. Do with me what you please, and 
be assured that you will never extract anything from me 
to my master's disadvantage." Then, to frighten him 
more, they threw him mto the water shut up as he was 
in the sack, and shouted to him that his life should be 
saved if he would speak the truth ; but seeing that he 
made no reply, they took him out of the water, and re- 
ported his firm behaviour to the queen. " Neither the 
king nor myself," said her majesty, " is so fortunate in 
servants as the bastard, who has not wherewithal to re- 
ward them." She did all she could to engage the worthy 
fellow in her service, but he would never quit his master, 
until the latter permitted him to enter the service of the 
queen, in which he lived happy and contented. 

Having discovered the secret marriage by means of 
the intercepted letter, the queen sent for Rolandine, and 
with great violence of manner called her several times 
wretch instead of cousin, upbraiding her with the dis- 
honour she had done to her house, and to her who was 
her mistress, in having thus married without her con- 
sent. Rolandine, who was long aware of the little kind- 
ness the queen entertained for her, fully returned that 
feeling. As there was no love betwecH them, fear no 
longer availed ; and as Rolandine saw plainly that a 
reprimand so publicly given was prompted less by regard 
for her than by the wish to put her to shame, and that 

204 "T^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE [Nmel zi. 

the queen was more pleased in mortifying her than 
grieved to find her in fault, she replied, with an air as 
calm and composed as that of the queen was agitated and 
passionate, " If you did not know your own heart, madam, 
I would set before you the bad feeling you have long en- 
tertained towards my father and me ; but you know it so 
well, that you will not be surprised to hear that it is not 
a secret for anybody. For my part, madam, I have seen 
and felt it to my cost. If you had been as kind to me as 
to those who are not so nearly related co you, I should 
now be married in a manner that would do honour both 
to you and to me ; but you have forsaken me, and not 
shown me the least mark of favour, so that I have massed 
all the good offers I have had through n.y father's negli- 
gence and the little account you have made of me. This 
unkind treatment threw me into such despair that, if my 
health had been strong enough to endure the austerities 
of a convent, I would gladly have enter'^d one to escape 
from the continual vexations which your harshness 
caused me. In the midst of this despondency I became 
acquainted with one who would be of as good a house as 
myself, if the love of two persons was as much esteemed 
as the matrimonial ring; for you know that his father 
would take precedence of mine. He has long loved and 
cheered me : but you, madam, who have never forgiven 
me the least fault, or praised any good act I may have 
done, though you knew by experience it was not my 
wont to talk of love and mundane vanities, and that I 
lived a more religious life than any other of your servants, 
you have not hesitated from the first to take offence at 
my speaking to a gentleman as unfortunate as myself, 
and in whose friendship I sought nothing else than con- 
solation of mind. When I saw that I was entirely de- 
prived of this, my despair was so great that I resolved to 

Third day. ] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 205 

seek my repose with as much solicitude as you took to 
deprive me of it. From that very hour we interchanged 
promises of marriage which were sealed with a ring. It 
seems to me, then, madam, that you wrong me in calling 
me wicked. The great and perfect friendship which 
subsists between the bastard and myself would have 
given me occasion to do wrong if I had been so disposed, 
yet we have never gone further than kissing, it being 
my conviction that God would do me the grace to obtain 
my father's consent before the consummation of our 
marriage. I have done nothing against God or against 
my conscience. I have waited till the age of thirty to 
see what you and my father would do for me ; and my 
youth has been passed in such chastity and virtue that 
no one in the world can justly cast the least reproach 
upon me in that respect. Finding myself on the decline, 
and without the hope of obtaining a husband of my own 
rank, reason determined me to take one according to my 
taste, not for the lust of the eyes, for, as you know, he 
whom I have chosen is not comely ; nor yet for that of 
the flesh, smce there has been no consummation ; nor 
for the pride and ambition of this life, for he is poor, and 
of little preferment ; but I have had regard purely and 
simply to the virtue and good qualities he possesses, as 
to which all the world is constrained to do him justice, 
and to the great love he has for me, which affords me 
the hope of enjoying quiet and contentment with him. 
After having maturely considered the good and the evil 
which might result to me, I took the course which ap- 
peared to me the best, and finally resolved, after two 
years' examination, to end my life with him ; and this I 
so fully resolved that no torments which could be inflicted 
upon me, nor death itself, could make me change my 
purpose. So, madam, I beseech you to excuse in me 


what is highly excusable, as you very well know, and 
leave me to enjoy the peace and quiet I expect to find 
with him." 

The queen, unable to make any reasonable reply to 
language so resolute and so true, could only renew her 
passionate chiding and abuse, and bursting into tears, 
"Wretch," she said, "instead of humbling yourself, and 
testifying repentance for the fault you have committed, 
you speak with audacity, and, instead of blushing, you 
do not so much as shed one tear ; thereby giving plain 
proof of your obstinacy and hardness of heart. But if 
the king and your father do as I would have them, they 
will put you in a place where you will be constrained to 
hold other language." 

" Since you accuse me, madam, of speaking with au- 
dacity," replied Rolandine, " I am resolved to say no 
more, unless you are pleased to permit me to speak.' 
The queen having given her permission, she continued : 
" It is not for me, madam, to speak to you with audacity. 
As you are my mistress, and the greatest princess in 
Christendom, I must always entertam for you the re- 
spect which is your due ; and it has never been my in- 
tention to depart from it. But as I have no advocate but 
the truth, and as it is known to myself alone, I am obliged 
to speak it boldly, in the hope that if I have the good 
fortune to make you thoroughly cognizant of it, you will 
not believe me to be such as you have been pleased to 
call me. I am not afraid that any mortal creature should 
know in what manner I have conducted myself in the 
affair which is laid to my charge, for I know that I have 
not done anything contrary either to God or to my hon- 
our. This, madam, is what makes me speak without 
fear, being well assured that Pie who sees my heart is 
with me ; and with such a judge on my side, I should be 

lhi>dJay.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 207 

wrong to fear those who are subject to his judgment. 
Wherefore should I weep, madam, since honour and con- 
science do not upbraid me ? As to repentance, madam, 
I am so far from repenting of what I have done that were 
it to be done again, I would do it. It is you, madam, who 
have great reason to weep, both for the wrong you have 
done me in the past, and for that which you now do me in 
censuring me publicly for a fault of which you are more 
guilty than I. If I had offended God, the king, you, my 
kindred, and my conscience, I ought to testify my re- 
pentance by my tears ; but I ought not to weep for having 
done an act that is good, just, and holy, which would 
never have been spoken of but with honour, if you, madam, 
had not prematurely divulged it, and given it an air of 
culpability: thereby plainly showing that you are more 
bent on dishonouring me than on preserving the honour 
of your house and your kindred., But since it is your 
pleasure, madam, to act thus, it is not for me to gainsay 
you. Innocent as I am, I shall feel no less pleasure in 
submitting to the punishment you may choose to inflict 
upon me than }'ou in imposing it. You and my father, 
madam, have but to say what you desire that I should 
suffer, and you shall be promptly obeyed. I reckon 
upon it, madam, that he will not be backward in this ; 
and I shall be very glad if he will share your sentiments, 
and if, after having agreed with you in the negligence 
he has shown in providing for my welfare, he imitates 
your activity now that the question is how to do me harm. 
But I have another Father in Heaven, who, I hope, will 
give me patience to endure the evils I see you are pre- 
paring for me ; and it is in Him alone I put my whole 

The queen, bursting with rage, gave orders that Ro- 
landine should be taken out of her sight, and shut up 


alone in a chamber where she should not be allowed to 
speak to anyone. Nevertheless, her gouvernante was 
left with her, and through her it was that Rolandine 
made known her present condition to the bastard, asking 
his advice at the same time as to what she should do. 
The bastard, believing that the services he had rendered 
to the king would be counted for something, repaired at 
once to the court. He found the king at the chase, told 
him the truth of the matter, reminded him of his poverty, 
and besought his majesty to appease the queen and per- 
mit the consummation of the marriage. The king made 
no other reply than to say " Do you assure me that you 
have married her .''" 

" Yes, sire," replied the bastard, " by words and by 
presents only ; but if your majesty pleases, the ceremony 
shall be completed." 

The king looked down, and without saying another 
word returned to the chateau. On arriving there, he 
called for the captain of his guards, and ordered him to 
arrest the bastard. However, one of the friends of the 
latter, who guessed the kmg's intention, sent him warn- 
ing to get out of the way, and retire to one of his houses 
which was not far off, promising that if the king should 
send in search of him, as he expected would be the case, 
he should have prompt notice, so that he might quit the 
kingdom ; and that, should matters be more favourable, 
he would send him word to return. The bastard took 
his friend's advice, and made such good speed that the 
captain of the guards did not find him. 

Meanwhile, the king and queen having conferred to- 
gether as to what should be done with the poor lady who 
had the honour to be their relation, it was decided, at 
the queen's suggestion, that she should be sent back to 
her father, who should be made acquainted with the 


Third day \ QUEEr^ OF NAVARRE. 209 

truth of the matter. Before she went away, several ec- 
clesiastics and people of sage counsel went to see her, 
and represented to her that, being engaged only by word 
of mouth, the marriage could easily be dissolved, pro- 
vided both parties were willing, and that it was the king's 
pleasure she should do so, for the honour of the house to 
which she belonged ; but she replied that she was ready 
to obey the king in all things, provided conscience was 
not implicated ; but what God had joined, men could 
not put asunder. She besought them not to ask of her 
a thing so unreasonable. " If the love and the good-will 
which are founded only on the fear of God," she added, 
" are a true and solid bond of marriage, then am I so 
closely bound that neither steel, nor fire, nor water can 
loose me. Death alone can do so, and to it alone will I 
surrender my ring and my oath ; so, gentlemen, I beg 
you will say no more to me on the subject." She had 
so much steadfastness, that she would rather die, and 
keep her word, than live after having broken it. 

This resolute reply was reported to the king, who, 
seeing that it was impossible to detach her from her 
husband, gave orders that she should be taken away to 
her father's ; and thither she was carried, with such little 
ceremony or regard to her quality, that none who saw 
how she was treated could restrain their tears. She had 
transgressed, indeed ; but her punishment was so great, 
and her fortitude so singular, that they made her fault 
seem a virtue. Her father, on hearing this disagreeable 
news, would not see his daughter, but sent her away to 
a castle situated in a forest, and which he had formerly 
built for a reason well worthy to be narrated. There 
she was for a long time a prisoner, and every day she 
was told, by her father's orders, that if she would re- 
nounce her husband he would treat her as his daughter, 


2 1 o THE HEF TA MER ON OF THE \ Nmel 2 1 

and set her at liberty. But nothing could shake her 
constancy. One would have thought she made pleasant 
pastime of her sufferings, to see how cheerfully she bore 
them for the sake of him she loved. 

What shall I say here of men ? The bastard, who was 
under such obligations to her, fled to Germany, where 
he had many friends, and showed by his inconstancy 
that he had attached himself to Rolandine through avarice 
and ambition rather than through real love ; for he be- 
came so enamoured of a German lady that he forgot to 
write to her who was suffering so much for his sake. 
However cruel fortune was towards them, she yet left it 
always in their power to write to each other ; but this 
sole comfort was lost through the bastard's inconstancy 
and negligence, whereat Rolandine was distressed beyond 
measure. The few letters he did write were so cold and 
so different from those she had formerly received from 
him, that she felt assured some new amour had deprived 
her of her husband's heart, and done what vexations and 
persecutions had been incapable of effecting. But her 
love for him was too great to allow of her taking any 
decisive step on mere conjectures. In order, therefore, 
to know the truth, she found means to send a trusty 
person, not to carry any letters or messages to him, but 
to observe him, and make careful inquiries. This envoy, 
on his return, informed her that the bastard was deeply 
in love with a German lady, and that it was said she was 
very rich, and that he wished to marry her. So extreme 
was poor Rolandine's affliction on learning this news, 
that she fell into a dangerous illness. Those who were 
aware of its cause told her, on the part of her father, 
that since the bastard's inconstant and dastardly beha- 
viour were known, she had a perfect right to abandon 
hnn ; and they tried hard to persuade her to do so. But it 

Third dLiy.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 2 1 j 

was in vain they tormented her ; she remained unchanged 
to the end, displaying alike the greatness of her love and 
of her virtue. In proportion as the bastard's love dimin- 
ished, Rolandine's augmented, the latter gaining as it 
were all that the former lost. Feeling that in her bosom 
alone was lodged all the love that had formerly dwelt in 
two, she resolved to cherish it until the death of the one 
or the other. 

The divine goodness, which is perfect charity and 
true love, took pity on her sorrows, and had so much 
regard for her patience that the bastard died soon after, 
in the midst of his wooing of another woman. The news 
being brought her by persons who had been present at 
his burial, she sent to her father, begging he would be 
so good as to allow her to say a few words to him. Her 
father, who had never spoken to her during the whole 
time of her captivity, went to her forthwith. After having 
heard her plead her justification at very great length, 
mstead of condemning and thinking of killmg her, as he 
had often threatened, he embraced her, and said, with 
swmimmg eyes, " You are more just than I, my daughter, 
for if you have committed a fault, I am the principal 
cause of it. But since it has pleased God that things 
should happen thus, I will try to make amends for the 
past." Accordmgly, he took her home, and treated her 
as his eldest daughter. 

A gentleman who bore the name and the arms of the 
family at last sought her in marriage. This gentleman, 
who was very prudent and virtuous, often saw Rolandme. 
and conceived so much esteem for her that he praised 
her for what others blamed, persuaded as he was that she 
acted only upon virtuous principles The chevalier being 
liked both by the father and the daughter, the marriage 
was forthwith concluded. It is true that a, brother she 

a 12 THh HEPTAMERON OF THE {Navel 7\ 

had, and who was the father's sole heir, would never give 
her a portion of the family wealth, under pretext that 
she had been wanting in obedience to her father ; after 
whose death he treated her so cruelly that she and her 
husband, who was a younger son, found it a hard matter 
to subsist. But God provided a remedy, for the brother, 
'\ who wished to retain all, died, leaving behind him both 
^> his own wealth and that of his sister, which he unjustU 
retained. By this means Rolandine and her husband 
were raised to great affluence. They lived honourably, 
according to their quality, were grateful for the favours 
bestowed on them by Providence, had much love for one 
another, and, after they had brought up two sons, with 
whom it pleased God to bless their marriage, Rolandine 
joyfully yielded up her soul to Him in whom she had 
always put her whole trust.* 

Ladies, let the men who regard us as inconstancy's 
very self show us a husband like the v/ife of whom I 
have been telling you, one who had the same goodness, 
fidelity, and constancy. I am sure they will find the 
task so very hard that I will acquit them of it altogether, 
rather than put them to such infinite pain. As for you, 
ladies, I beg that, for the maintenance of your dignity, 

* The Bibliophiles Fran^ais have clearly enough identified the 
persons in this story. The Queen of France is the celebrated Anne 
of Bretagne, wife of Charles VIII. and of Louis XII Rolandine 
is Anna de Rohan, third child and eldest daughter of Jean II., 
Viscount of Rohan, Count of Porhoet, Leon, and La Garnache. 
She married, in 1517, Pierre de Rohan, Baron of Frontenay, by 
whom she had two sons. The bastard appears to have been Jean, 
Bastard of Angouleme, legitimized in 1458 by Charles V^II.; and 
the lady, the mother of the young prince, who forbade the bastard 
to continue his interviews with Rolandine at the window, and who 
must, therefore, have had a certain right to command him, was prob* 
ably Louise of Savoy. 

Third ifajy.] QUEEN OF NA FAR RE. 2 1 3 

you will either not love at all, or love as perfectly as this 
demoiselle. Do not say that she exposed her honour, 
since by her firmness she has been the means of so aug- 
menting ours. 

"It is true, Oisille," said Parlamente, "that your 
heroine was a woman of a very lofty spirit, and the 
more commendable for her steadfastness as she had to 
do with an unfaithful husband, who wished to quit her 
for another." 

'^That, I think," said Longarine, "must have been 
the hardest thing for her to bear ; for there is no bur- 
den so heavy which the love of two persons who are 
truly united may not bear with ease and comfort ; but 
when one of the two deserts his duty, and leaves the 
whole burden to the other, the weight becomes insup- 

" You ought then to have pity on us," said Geburon, 
" since we have to bear the whole weight of love, and 
you will not so much as help with a finger-end to ease 
the burden." 

' The burdens of the man and of the woman are 
often different," observed Parlamente. " The wife's 
love, founded on piety and virtue, is so just and reason- 
able, that he who is untrue to the duties of such a 
friendship ought to be regarded as a dastard, and wicked 
in the sight of God and man. But as men love only 
with a view to pleasure, women, who in their ignorance 
are always the dupes of wicked men, often engage them- 
selves too deeply in a commerce of tenderness , but 
when God makes known to them the criminal intentions 
of those whom they supposed to entertain none but good 
ones, they may break off with honour, and without dam- 
age to their reputation, for the shortest follies are always 
the best." 

2 1 4 THE HEPTA ME RON OF THE \^oveitx. 

'* That is a mere whim of your own," said Hircan, 
" to assert that virtuous women may honourably cease 
to love men, whilst the latter may not in like manner 
cease to love women ; as if the heart of the one sex was 
different from that of the other. For my part, I am 
persuaded that, in spite of diversity in faces and dresses, 
the inclinations of both are the same ; the only differ- 
ence is that the more hidden guilt is the worse." 

" I am very well aware," said Parlamente, with some 
anger, " that in your opinion the least guilty women are 
those whose guilt is known." 

"Let us change the subject," interrupted Simon- 
tault, " and dismiss that of the heart of man and of wo- 
man by saying that the best of them is good for nothing. 
Let us see to whom Parlamente will give her voice." 

"To Geburon," she said. 

" Since I have begun with mentioning the Corde- 
liers," said he, " I must not forget the monks of St. Ben- 
edict, and cannot forbear relating what happened in my 
time to two of these good fathers ; at the same time, 
let not what I am going to tell you of a wicked monk 
hinder you from having a good opinion of those that 
deserve it. But as the Psalmist says that all i/ieu are 
liars, and that there is none that worketh righteousness, 
no not one, it seems to me that one cannot fail to esteem 
a man such as he is. In fact, if there is good in him, it 
is to be attributed, not to the creature but to Him who 
is the principle and the source of all good. Mf^st people 
deceive themselves in giving too much to the creature, 
or in too much esteeming themselves. And that you 
may not suppose it impossible to find extreme concupis- 
cence under an extreme austerity, I will relate to you a 
fact which happened in the time of King Francis L" 

Third day. ] Q UEEN OF NA FA RRE. 2 1 S 


A prior tries every means to seduce a nun, but at last his villainy 

is discovered. 

There was at St. Martin-des-Champs, at Paris, a 
prior, whose name I will not mention, because of the 
friendship I once bore him. He led so austere a life 
until the age of fifty, and the fame of his sanctity was 
so strong throughout the kingdom, that there was no 
prince or princess who did not receive him with venera- 
tion when he paid them a visit. No monastic reform 
was effected in which he had not part ; and he received 
the name of the " Father of true monasticism." He was 
elected visitor of the celebrated society of the Ladies of 
Fontevrault, who were in so much awe of him that when 
he came to any of their convents the nuns trembled with 
fear, and treated him just as they might have treated the 
king, hoping thereby to soften his rigour towards them. 
At first, he did not wish that such deference should be 
paid him ; but as he approached his fifty-fifth year, he 
at last came to like the honours he had refused in the 
beginning ; and coming by degrees to regard himself as 
the public property of the religious societies, he was 
more careful to preserve his health than he had been. 
Though he was bound by the rules of his order never 
to eat meat, he granted himself a dispensation in that 
respect, a thing he would never do for anyone else, 
alleging as his reason that the whole burden of the 
brethren's spiritual interests rested upon him. Accord- 
ingly, he pampered himself, and to such good purpose 


that from being a very lean monk he became a very fat 

With the change in his manner of living a change 
took place in his heart also, and he began to look at 
faces on which he had before made it matter of con- 
science to cast his eyes casually. By dint of looking at 
beauties, rendered more desirable by their veils, he be- 
gan to lust after them. In order to satisfy his unholy 
passion he changed from a shepherd into a wolf ; and if 
he found an Agnes in any of the convents under his 
jurisdiction, he failed not to corrupt her. After he had 
long led this wicked life, Divine goodness, taking pity 
on the poor misused sheep, was pleased to unmask the 
villain, as you shall hear. 

He had gone one day to visit a convent near Paris 
named Gif, and while he was confessing the nuns, there 
came before him one named Sister Marie Herouet, whose 
sweet and pleasing voice indicated that her face and 
heart were not less so. The mere sound inspired the 
good father with a passion exceeding all he had ever felt 
for other nuns. In speaking to her he stooped down to 
look at her, and seeing her mouth so rosy and charming, 
he could not help lifting up her veil to satisfy himself if 
her eyes corresponded to the beauty of her lips. He 
found what he sought, and noted it so well that his heart 
became filled with a most vehement ardour ; he lost his 
appetite for food and drink, and even all countenance, in 
spite of his efforts to dissemble. On his return to his 
priory there was no rest for him. He passed his days 
and nights in extreme disquietude, his mind continually 
occupied in devising means to gratify his passion, and 
make of this nun what he had made of so many others. 
As he had observed that she possessed steadiness of 
character and quickness of perception, the thing ap- 

Third day.] QUEEN OF NA VAN RE. 2 1 7 

peared to him hard to accomplish. Conscious, more- 
over, that he was ugly and old-looking, he resolved not 
to attempt to win her by soft words, but extort from her 
by fear what he could not hope to obtain for love. 

With this intention, he returned a few days after to 
the convent of Gif, and displayed more austerity there 
than ever he had done before, angrily rating all the 
nuns. One did not wear her veil low enough ; another 
carried her head too high; another did not make obei- 
sance properly like a nun. So severe was he with regard 
to all these trifles, that he seemed as terrible as the pic- 
ture of God on the day of judgment. Being gouty, he 
was much fatigued in visiting all parts of the convent, 
and it was about the hour of vespers (an hour assigned 
by himself) that he reached the dormitory. The abbess 
told him it was time to say vespers. " Have them said, 
mother," replied the prior, " for I am so tired that I will 
remain here, not to repose, but to speak to Sister Marie 
about a scandalous thing I hear of her ; for I am told 
that she babbles like a worldling." The prioress, who 
was aunt to Sister Marie's mother, begged that he would 
chapter her soundly, and left her in the hands of the 
prior, quite alone, except that a young monk was with 

Left alone with Sister Marie, he began by lifting up 
her veil, and bidding her look in his face. Sister Marie 
replied that her rule forbade her to look at men. "That 
is well said, my daughter," said the prior, "but you are 
not to believe that monks are men." 

For fear, then, of being guilty of disobedience, Sister 
Marie looked at him, and thought him so ugly that it 
seemed to her more a penance than a sin to look at him. 
The reverend father, after talking of the love he bore 
her, wanted to put his hands on her breasts. She re- 


pulsed him as she ought ; and the reverend father, vexed 
at so unwonted a beginning, exclaimed in great anger, 
" What business has a nun to know that she has breasts ?" 

" I know that I have," replied Sister Marie ; " and I 
am very certain that neither you nor anyone else shall 
ever touch them. I am neither young enough nor igno- 
rant enough not to know what is a sin and what is not so." 

Seeing, then, that he could not compass his designs 
in that way, he had recourse to another expedient, and 
said, " I must declare my infirmity to you, my daughter; 
I have a malady which all the physicians deem incurable, 
unless I delight myself with a woman whom I passion- 
ately love. I would not for my life commit a mortal 
sin ; but even should it come to that, I know that simple 
fornication is not to be compared to the sin of homicide. 
So if you love my life, you will hinder me from dying, 
and save your own conscience." 

She asked him what sort of diversion it was that he 
contemplated ; to which he replied that she might rest 
her conscience on his, and he assured her that he would 
do nothing which would leave any weight on either. To 
let her judge by the preliminaries what sort of pastime 
it was he asked of her, he embraced her and tried to 
throw her on a bed. Making no doubt then of his wicked 
intention, she cried out, and defended herself so well 
that he could only touch her clothes. Seeing, then, that 
all his devices and efforts were fruitless, like — I will not 
say a madman, but like a man without conscience or 
reason, he put his hand under her robe, and scratched 
all that came under his nails with such fury that the 
poor girl, shrieking with all her might, fell in a faint. 
The abbess, hearing her cries, ran to the dormitory, 
reproaching herself for having left her relation alone 
with the reverend father. She stood for a moment at 

Third day \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 210 

the door to listen, but, hearing her niece's voice, she 
pushed open the door, which was held by the young 
monk. When she entered the dormitory, the prior, 
pointiuLj to her niece, said, " You did wrong, mother, not 
to acquaint me with Sister Marie's constitution : for, not 
knowing her weakness, I made her stand before me, and 
while I was reprimanding her, she fainted away, as you 

Vinegar and other remedies being applied, Sister 
Marie recovered from her faint ; and the prior, fearing 
lest she should tell her aunt the cause of it, found means 
to whisper in her ear, " I command you, my daughter, on 
pain of disobedience and eternal damnation, never to 
speak of what I have done to you. It was my great love 
for you that made me do it ; but since I see that you 
will not respond to my passion, I will never mention 
it to you while I live. I may, however, assure you, for 
the last time, that if you will love me I will have you 
chosen abbess of one of the best abbeys in this kingdom." 

She replied that she would rather die in perpetual 
imprisonment than ever have any other friend than Him 
who had died for her on the cross ; deeming herself 
happier in suffering all ills with Him than in enjoying 
without Him all the pleasures the world can afford. She 
warned him once for all not to speak to her any more in 
that manner, if he did not wish her to complain of it to 
the abbess ; but if he desisted, she would say nothing of 
what was past. Before this bad shepherd withdrew, in 
order to appear quite different from what he was in 
reality, and to have the pleasure of again gazing on her 
he loved, he turned to the abbess and said, " I beg, mother, 
that you will make all your daughters sing a Salve 
Regina in honour of the Virgin, in whom I rest my hope." 
The Salve Regina was sung ; and all the while the fox 



did nothing but weep, not with devotion, but with regret 
at having so ill succeeded. The nuns, who attributed his 
emotion to the love he felt for the Virgin Mary, regarded 
him as a saint ; but Sister Marie, who knew his hypoc- 
risy, prayed to God in her heart to confound a villain 
who had such contempt for virginity. 

The hypocrite returned to St. Martin's, carrying with 
him the criminal fire which consumed him day and night, 
and occupied his mind only in trying to find means for 
accomplishing his unrighteous end. Being afraid of the 
abbess, whose virtue he was aware of, he thought he 
could not do better than remove her from that convent. 
With that view, he went to Madame de Vendome, who 
was then residing at La Fere, where she had built and 
endowed a convent of the order of St. Benedict, named 
Mont d' Olivet. In his professed character of a sovereign 
reformer, he represented to her that the abbess of Mont 
d'Olivetwas not capable of governing such a community. 
The good lady begged him to name one who should be 
worthy to fill that ofifice. This was just what he wanted, 
and he at once recommended her to take the abbess of 
Gif, whom he depicted to her as the abbess of the great- 
est capacity in France. Madame de Vendome sent for 
her forthwith, and gave her the government of her con- 
vent of INIont d'Olivet ; whilst the prior, who commanded 
the suffrages of all the communities, had one who was 
devoted to him elected abbess of Gif. 

This being done, he went to the convent to try once 
more if by prayers or promises he could prevail over 
Sister Marie. He succeeded no better than the first 
time, and returning in despair to St. Martin's, he there 
contrived more villany. As much with a view to accom- 
plish his original purpose as to be revenged on the 
uncomplying nun, and for fear the affair should obtain 

TAtrd da;y.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 22* 

publicity, he had the relics stolen from the convent of 
Gif by night, accused the confessor of the convent, an 
aged and worthy monk, of having committed the theft, 
and imprisoned him at St. Martin's. Whilst he kept him 
there he suborned two witnesses, who deposed that they 
had seen the confessor and Sister Marie committing an 
infamous and indecent act in a garden ; and this he 
wanted to make the old monk confess. The good man, 
who knew all the prior's tricks, begged him to assemble 
the chapter, and said he would state truly all he knew 
in presence of the monks. This demand he took care 
not to grant, fearing lest the confessor's justification 
should condemn himself ; but finding the latter so invin- 
cibly steadfast, he treated him so ill that some say he 
died in prison ; others say that the prior forced him to 
unfrock and quit the realm. Be it as it may, he was 
never seen afterwards. 

The prior, having, as he thought, such a great hold on 
Sister Marie, went to Gif, where the abbess his creature 
never disputed a word that fell from, his lips. He began 
by exercising his authority as visitor, and summoned all 
the nuns one by one, that he might hear them in chamber 
in form of confession and visitation. Sister Marie, who 
had lost her good aunt, having at last appeared in her 
turn, he began by saying to her, " You know, Sister 
Marie, of what a crime you are accused ; and conse- 
quently you know that the great chastity you affect has 
availed you nothing, for it is very well known that you 
are anything but chaste." 

" Produce my accuser," replied Sister Marie, un- 
dauntedly, " and you will see how he will maintain such 
a statement in my presence." 

" The confessor himself has been convicted of the fact, 
and that must be proof enough for you," returned the prior. 

222 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \Nffvel 22. 

" I believe him to be such a good man," said Sister 
Marie, " that he is incapable of confessing such a false- 
hood. But even should he have done so, set him before 
me and I will prove the contrary." 

The prior, seeing she was not daunted, said, " I am 
your father, and as such I wish to be tender with your 
honour ; I leave the matter between you and your con- 
science, and will believe what you shall tell me. I con- 
jure you then, on pain of mortal sin, to tell me the truth. 
Were you a virgin when you entered this house } " 

" My age at that time, father, is warrant for my vir- 
ginity. I was then but five years old." 

" And since then, my daughter, have you not lost that 
fair flower .''" 

She swore she had not, and that she had never un- 
dergone any temptation except from him. 

" I cannot believe it," the hypocrite replied ; " it 
remains to be proved." 

" What proof do you require } " 

"That which I exact from other nuns. As I am the 
visitor of souls, so am I also of bodies. Your abbesses 
and prioresses have all passed through my hands, and 
you must not scruple to let me examine your virginity. 
Lay yourself on that bed, and turn the front of your robe 
over your face." 

" You have told me so much of your criminal love for 
me," replied Sister Marie, indignantly, "that I have 
reason to believe vour intention is not so much to ex- 
amine my virginity as to despoil me of it. So be assured 
I will never consent." 

" You are excommunicated," returned the prior, " to 
refuse obedience ; and unless you do as I bid you, I will 
dishonour you in full chapter, and will state all I know 
of you and the confessor." 

Third day:\ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 223 

Sister Marie, witliout suffering herself to be dismayed, 
replied that He who knew the hearts of his servants 
would be her stay. " And since you carry your malev- 
olence so far," she said, " I would rather be the victim 
of your cruelty than the accomplice of your criminal 
desires ; because I know that God is a just judge." 

In a rage that may be more easily imagined than de- 
scribed, the prior hurried off to assemble the chapter. 
Summoning Sister Marie before him, he made her kneel, 
and thus addressed her : " It is with extreme grief. Sister 
Marie, that I see how the wholesome remonstrances 
which I have addressed to you on so capital a fault have 
been of no avail, and I am compelled with regret to im- 
pose a penance upon you contrary to my custom. I have 
examined your confessor touching certain crimes of which 
he was accused, and he has confessed to me that he has 
abused you, and that in a place where two witnesses de- 
pose to having seen you. Instead, then, of the honourable 
post of mistress of the novices in which I had placed you, 
I ordain that you be the lowest of all, and also that you 
eat your diet of bread and water on the ground in the 
presence of all the sisters, until you shall have merited 
pardon by your repentance." 

Sister Marie, having been warned beforehand, by one 
of her companions who knew her whole affair, that if she 
made any reply which was displeasing to the prior he 
would put her in pace, that is, immure her for ever in 
a cell, heard her sentence without saying a word, raising 
her eyes to heaven, and praying that He who had given 
her the grace to resist sin, would give her the patience 
necessary to endure her sufferings. This was not all. 
The venerable prior further prohibited her speaking for 
three years to her mother or her relations, or writing any 
letter excepting in community. 

224 ^-^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE iNovel 22. 

After this the wretch went away and returned no 
more. The poor girl remained a long time in the con- 
dition prescribed by her sentence ; but her mother, who 
had a more tender affection for her than for her other 
children, was surprised at not hearing from her, and said 
to one of her sons that she believed her daughter was 
dead, and that the nuns concealed her death in order the 
longer to enjoy the annual payment made for her main- 
tenance. She begged him to inquire into the matter, and 
see his sister, if it were possible. The brother went at 
once to the convent, was answered with the usual ex- 
cuses, and was told that for three years his sister had not 
quitted her bed. The young man would net be put off 
with that reply, and swore that unless she were shown to 
him he would scale the walls and break into the convent. 
This threat so alarmed the nuns that they brought his 
sister to the grating ; but the abbess followed her so 
closely, that she could not speak to her brother without 
being heard by the good mother. But Sister Marie, 
having her wits about her, had taken the precaution be- 
forehand to write down all the facts I have related, 
together with the details of a thousand other stratagems 
which the prior had employed to seduce her, and which, 
for the sake of brevity, I omit. 

I must not, however, forget to mention that, whilst 
her aunt was abbess, the prior, fancying it was on ac- 
count of his ugliness he was repulsed, caused Sister 
Marie to be tempted by a young and handsome monk, 
hoping that, if she yielded to the latter for love, he him- 
self might afterwards have his will of her through fear. 
But the young monk having accosted her in a garden, 
with words and gestures so infamous that I should be 
ashamed to repeat them, the poor girl ran to the abbess, 
who was talking with the prior, and cried to her, 

Third day.] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 225 

" Mother, they are demons, and not monks, who come to 
visit us." Upon this the prior, afraid of being discov- 
ered, said to the abbess, with a laugh, " Certainly, mother, 
Sister Marie is right." He then took her hand, and 
said, in presence of the abbess, " I had heard that Sister 
Marie spoke very well, and with such facility as led 
people to believe she was mundane. For this reason I 
have done violence to my nature, and have spoken to her 
as worldlings speak to women, so far as I know that 
language from books ; for in point of personal experience 
I am as ignorant as I was the day I was born. And as I 
attributed her virtue to my age and ugliness, I ordered 
my young monk to speak to her in the same tone. She 
has made, as you see, a sage and virtuous resistance. I 
am pleased with her for it, and esteem her so highly 
that henceforth I desire that she be the first after you, 
and the mistress of the novices, in order that her virtue 
may be fortified more and more." The venerable prior 
did many feats of the same sort during the three years 
he was in love with the nun, who, as I have said, gave 
her brother a written narrative of her sad adventures 
through the grating. 

The brother carried the paper to his mother, who 
hurried distractedly to Paris, where she found the Queen 
of Navarre, only sister to the king, and laid this piteous 
tale before her, saying, " Put no more trust, madam, in 
these hypocrites. I thought I had placed my daughter 
on the outskirts of heaven, or at least on the way to it ; 
but I find I have placed her in hell, and in the hands 
of people worse than all the devils there ; for the devils 
tempt us only so far as we are ourselves consenting 
parties, but these wretches try to prevail over us by 
violence when they cannot do so by love." The Queen 
of Navarre was greatly perplexed. She had implicit 

2 26 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [mvel 22. 

confidence in the prior of St. Martin's, and had com- 
mitted to his charge the abbesses of Montivilliers and of 
Caen, her sisters-in-law. On the other hand, the crime 
appeared to her so black and horrible, that she longed 
to avenge the poor innocent girl, and communicated the 
matter to the king's chancellor, who was then legate in 
France.* The legate made the prior appear before him, 
and all that the latter could allege in excuse for himself 
was that he was seventy years of age. He appealed to the 
Queen of Navarre, beseeching, by all the pleasures she 
would ever wish to do him, and as the sole recompense 
of his past services, that she would have the goodness 
to put a stop to these proceedings, assuring her he would 
avow that sister Marie Herouet was a pearl of honour 
and chastity. The queen was so astounded at this 
speech, that, not knowing how to reply to it, she turned 
her back upon him, and left him there. The poor monk, 
overwhelmed with confusion, retired to his monastery, 
where he never would let himself be seen by anybody, 
and died a year afterwards. Sister Marie Herouet, 
esteemed as the virtues God had given her deserved, 
was taken from the abbey of Gif, where she had suffered 
so much, and was made by the king abbess of the abbey 
of Giy, near Montargis. She reformed the abbey which 
his majesty had given her, and lived like a saint, ani- 
mated by the spirit of God, whom she praised all her 
life long for the repose He had procured her, and the 
dignity with which He had invested her.f 

* Antoine Duprat, cardinal-legate, chancellor of France, was 
appointed legate in 1530, and died 1535. The events related in 
this novel must have occurred between those years. 

t The prior who figures in this novel was Etienne Gentil, who 
became prior in 1508, and died in 1536. The abbey of St. Martin- 
des-Champs stood on the site now occupied by the Conservatoire 
des Arts et Metiers. The church and the refectory are still 

Thi-dday:\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 237 

There, ladies, is a story which well confirms what St 
Paul says to the Corinthians, that God makes use of 
weak things to confound the strong, and of those who 
seem useless in men's eyes to overthrow the glory and 
splendour of those who, thinking themselves something, 
are yet in reality nothing. There is no good in any man 
but what God puts into him by His grace ; and there is 
no temptation out of which one does not come victorious, 
when God grants aid. You see this by the confession 
of a monk, who was believed to be a good man, and by 
the elevation of a girl whom he wished to exhibit as 
criminal and wicked. In this we see the truth of our 
Lord's saying, that " He that exalteth himself shall be 
humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." 
" How many worthy people this monk deceived ! " 
said Oisille ; " for I have seen how they trusted in him 
more than in God." 

" I should not have been one of those he deceived ! " 
said Nomerfide, " for I have such a horror of the very 
sight of a monk that I could not even confess to them, 
believing them to be worse than all other men, and never 
to frequent any house without leaving in it some shame 
or dissension.'' 

'• There are some good men amongst them," said 
Oisille ; " and the wickedness of an individual ought not 
to be imputed to the whole body ; but the best are those 
who least frequent secular houses and women." 

" That is very well said," observed Ennasuite, " for the 
less one sees and knows them the better one esteems 
them ; for upon more experience one comes to know 
their real nature." 

" Let us leave the monastery where it is," said Nomer- 
fide, "and see to whom Geburon will give his voice." 
" To Madame Oisille," replied Geburon, " in order 


that she may tell us something in honour of the regular 

" We have pledged ourselves so strongly to speak 
the truth," replied Oisille, " that I could not undertake 
that task. Besides, your tale reminded me of a piteous 
one, which I must relate to you, as I come from the 
neighbourhood of the country where the thing occurred 
in my own time. I choose this story of recent date, 
ladies, in order that the hypocrisy of those who believe 
themselves more religious than others may not so be- 
guile you as to make your faith quit the right path, and 
induce you to hope for salvation in any other than Him 
who will have no companion in the work of our creation 
and redemption. He alone is almighty to save us in 
eternity and to comfort us in this life, and deliver us out 
of all our afflictions. You know that Satan often as- 
sumes the appearance of an angel of light, in order that 
the eye, deceived by the semblance of sanctity and de- 
votion, may attach itself to the things it ought to shun." 


A cordelier who was the cause of three murders, those of 
husband, wife, and child. 

In Perigord, there dwelt a gentleman whose devotion 
to St. Francis was such that he imagined all those who 
wore that saint's habit were, as a matter of course, as 
holy as the sainted founder of their order. In honour of 
that good saint he fitted up a suite of apartments in his 
house to lodge the Franciscan monks, by whose advice 
he regulated all his affairs, even to the smallest house- 

Third day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 229 

hold matters, thinking that he could not but walk safely 
when he followed such good guides. It happened that 
the wife of this gentleman, a handsome lady, and as vir- 
tuous as she was handsome, was delivered of a fine boy ; 
for which her husband, who already loved her much, 
^now regarded her with redoubled affection. The better 
to entertain his wife, the gentleman sent for one of his 
brothers-in-law ; and a Cordelier, whose name I shall 
conceal for the honour of the order, arrived also. The 
gentleman was very glad to see his spiritual father, from 
whom he had no secrets ; and after a long conversation 
between the lady, her brother, and the monk, they all 
sat down to supper. During the repast, the gentleman, 
looking wistfully at his lovely wife, said aloud to the 
good father, " Is it true, father, that it is a mortal sm to 
be with one's wife during the month of her confine- 
ment } " 

The Cordelier, who was anything but what he seemed, 
replied, " Certainly, sir ; I think it is one of the greatest 
sins that can be committed in marriage. I need only 
refer you to the example of the blessed Virgin, who 
would not enter the Temple till the day of her purifica- 
tion, though she had no need of that ceremony. This 
alone should teach you the indispensable necessity of 
abstaining from this little pleasure, since the good 
Virgin Mary, in order to obey the law, abstained from 
going to the Temple, in which was her whole consola- 
tion. Besides, the physicians say there is reason to fear 
for the children that might be begotten under such cir- 

The gentleman, who had expected that the monk 
would give him permission to lie with his wife, was much 
annoyed at a reply so contrary to his hope ; however, he 
let the matter drop. The reverend father having drunk 


a little more than was reasonable during the conversation, 
cast his eyes on the lady, and concluded within himself 
that if he was her husband, he would lie with her with- 
out asking anyone's advice. As the fire kindles little by 
little, and at last waxes so strong and fierce that it burns 
down the house, so the poor monk felt himself possessed 
with such vehement concupiscence, that he resolved all 
at once to satisfy the desire he had cherished in secret 
for three years. After the supper-things had been taken 
away, he took the gentle-man by the hand, led him to the 
side of the bed, and said to him, in the presence of his 
wife, •' Knowing, sir, as I do, the affection that subsists 
between you and mademoiselle, I compassionate the feel- 
ings with which your great youth inspires you both. 
Therefore I will impart to you a secret of our holy theol- 
o^v. You must know, then, that the law which is so 
rio-orous on account of the abuses committed by indis- 
creet husbands, is not so strict with regard to husbands 
so prudent and moderate as you. Hence, sir, after hav- 
ing stated before others what is the severity of the law, 
I must tell you in private what is its mildness. Know, 
then, that there are women and women, as there are 
men and men. Before all things, then, it is necessary 
that mademoiselle, who has been delivered these three 
weeks, should tell you if her flux of blood has quite 

The demoiselle replied very positively that it had. 

"That being the case, my son," resumed the Corde- 
lier, " I permit you to lie with her without scruple, on 
these two conditions : first, that you mention it to no 
one, and that you come to her secretly ; secondly, that 
you do not come to her until two hours after midnight, 
in order not to disturb your wife's digestion." 

The gentleman promised to observe both these con- 


Third day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 231 

ditions, and confirmed his promise by so strong an oath 
that the monk, who knew him to be more of a fool than 
a liar, did not doubt that he would keep his word. After 
a pretty long conversation, he bade them good nioht, 
gave them plenty of benedictions, and retired to his 
chamber. As he was leaving the room, he took the 
gentleman by the hand, and said, "Certes, sir, it is time 
for you to retire also, and leave mademoiselle to repose." 
The gentleman obeyed and withdrew, telling his wife, in 
the good father's presence, to leave the door open. 

On reaching his chamber the good monk thought of 
anything but sleeping. As soon as he found that the 
house was all still, that is to say, about the hour when 
he was wont to go to matins, he went straight to the 
chamber where the gentleman was expected. He found 
the door open, and having entered, he began by putting 
out the candle, and then got into bed to the lady as fast 
as he could. " My dear, this is not what you promised 
the good father," said the demoiselle, who mistook him 
for her husband; "you said you would not come here 
until two o'clock." The Cordelier, who was more intent 
upon action than on contemplation, and was afraid, too, 
of being recognized if he spoke, made no reply, but pro- 
ceeded at once to gratify the criminal passion which had 
long poisoned his heart ; whereat the demoiselle was 
much astonished. The hour when the husband was to 
come being at hand, the Cordelier got out of bed, and 
returned to his chamber ; but as love had before hin- 
dered him from sleeping, so now the fear that always 
follows crime allowed him no repose. He got up, went 
to the porter, and said, " My friend, monsieur has com- 
manded me to go back at once to our convent, where I 
am to put up prayers for him. So pray let me have my 
beast, and open the door for me v/ithout letting anyone 

232 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE l^oz'tl 23. 

know, for this business requires secrecy." The porter, 
knowing that to obey the Cordelier was to serve his 
master, opened the gate and let him out. 

At that moment the gentleman awoke, and seeing 
that it was near the time when he was to go to his wife, 
he wrapped his dressing-gown about him, and went to 
his wife's bed, whither he might have gone in accordance 
with God's law without asking leave of anyone. His 
wife being ignorant of what had occurred, and finding 
her husband beside her, and hearing his voice, said to 
him, in surprise, " What, sir ! is this the promise you 
made the good Cordelier, that you would be cautious of 
your health and mine ? Not content with having come 
hither before the time, you now come again. Do think 
better of it, I entreat you." 

Confounded at being addressed in this manner, and 
unable to conceal his vexation, the husband replied, 
" What is this you say t It is three weeks since I have 
been in bed with you, and you accuse me of coming to 
you too often. If you continue to talk to me in that 
strain, you will make me believe that my company is 
distasteful to you, and constrain me to do what I have 
never yet done, that is, to seek elsewhere the lawful 
pleasure you refuse me." 

The lady, who thought he was joking, replied, " Do 
not deceive yourself, sir, in thinking to deceive me. 
Though you did not speak to me the first time you came, 
I knew very well that you were there." 

The gentleman then perceived that they had both 
been duped, and solemnly vowed that he had not been 
there before; and the wife, in an agony of grief, begged 
he would find out at once who it could be that had de- 
ceived her, since the only persons who had slept in the 
house were her brother and the Cordelier. The hus- 

Third day-\ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 233 

band's suspicions falling immediately on the latter, he 
ran to his chamber, and found it empty. To make sure 
whether or not he had fled, he called the porter, and 
asked if he knew what had become of the Cordelier. 
The porter told him what had passed, and the poor gen- 
tleman, convinced of the monk's villainy, went back to 
his wife, and said, " Be assured, my dear, that person 
who lay with you and performed such feats was no other 
than our father confessor." 

The lady, to whom honour had always been most 
precious, was so horror-stricken, that, forgetting all hu- 
manity and the natural gentleness of her sex, she en 
treated her husband on her knees to revenge her for 
such a cruel outrage ; whereupon he mounted his horse, 
and rode off in pursuit of the Cordelier. The wife, left 
alone in her bed, without anyone to counsel her, and 
without any consolation except her new-born babe, pon- 
dered over the hideous adventure which had befallen her, 
and making no account of her ignorance, regarded her- 
self as guilty, and as the most miserable woman in the 
world. And then, having never learned anything from 
the Cordelier but confidence in good works, satisfaction 
for sins by austerity of life, fasting, and discipline, and 
being wholly ignorant of the grace given by our good 
God through the merits of his Son, the remission of sins 
through his blood, the reconciliation of the Father with 
us through his death, and the life given to sinners by his 
sole goodness and mercy, she was so bewildered between 
her horror at the enormity of the deed and her love for 
her husband and the honour of her line, that she thought 
death far happier than such a life as hers. Thus, ren- 
dered desperate by her grief, she lost not only the hope 
which every Christian ought to have in God, but com- 
mon sense too, and the recollection of her own nature. 

234 ^-^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE {Nmel 23. 

Not knowing, then, either God or herself, but, on the 
contrary, full of rage and madness, she undid one of the 
cords of her bed, and strangled herself with her own 
hands. In the agony of that painful death, amidst the 
last violent efforts of nature, the unfortunate woman 
pressed her foot upon her infant's face, and its innocence 
could not secure it from a death as piteous as its 

Roused by a great cry uttered by the expiring lady, 
a woman who slept in her room got up, and lighted a 
candle. Seeing her mistress hanging dead by the bed- 
cord, and her infant smothered at her feet, the horrified 
servant went to the bedroom of the deceased's brother, 
and took him to see that sad spectacle. The brother, as 
deeply afflicted as a man would naturally be who tenderly 
loved his sister, asked the servant who had perpetrated 
such a crime. She could not tell at all ; the only thing she 
could say was, that no one had entered the room but her 
master, who had quitted it but a moment ago. The brother, 
hurrying instantly to his brother-in-law's chamber, and 
not finding him there, was firmly persuaded that he had 
done the deed. Mounting his horse without more delay, 
or waiting for fuller information, he rode after his brother- 
in-law, and met him as he was returning from his in- 
effectual pursuit of the Cordelier. " Defend yourself, 
base villain ! " cried the brother-in-law ; " I trust that 
God will revenge me with this sword on the greatest 
miscreant on earth." The husband would have expostu- 
lated ; but the brother-in-law pressed him so hard, that 
all he could do was to defend himself, without knowing 
what was the cause of the quarrel. They dealt each other 
so many wounds that they were compelled, by loss of 
blood and weakness, to dismount and rest a little. While 
they were taking breath, the husband said, " Let me at least 

riiird day.] Qi'EEN OF NA VARRE. 235 

know, brother, why the friendship we have always had 
for one another has been changed into such rancorous 
hatred ? " 

" Let me know why you have put my sister to death, 
one of the best women that ever Hved," rephed the 
brother ; " and why, under pretext of going to sleep with 
her, you have hung her with the bed-cord?" 

More dead than alive on hearing these words, the 
poor husband faltered out, " Is it possible, brother, that 
you found your sister in the state you say ? " Being 
assured that this was the exact truth, " Pray, brother, 
listen to me," he continued, "and you shall know why I 
left the house." And then he related the adventure of 
the Cordelier. The astonished brother now bitterly re- 
pented the precipitation with which he had acted, and 
earnestly implored forgiveness. " If I have wronged 
you," said the husband, " you are avenged ; for I am 
wounded beyond hope of recovery." The brother-in-law 
set him on his horse as well as he could, and led him 
back to his own house, where he died the next day, and 
the survivor confessed before all his relations and friends 
that he was the cause of his death. 

For the satisfaction of justice, the brother-in-law was 
advised to go and solicit his pardon of King Francis I. 
To this end, after having honourably interred the father, 
mother, and child, he set out on one Good Friday, to 
solicit his pardon at court ; and he obtained it through 
the favour of Fran9ois Olivier, Chancellor of Alen^on, 
afterwards, in consideration of his great endowments, 
chosen by the king to be chancellor of France. 

I am persuaded, ladies, that after this story, which is 
the very truth, there is not one of you but will think twice 
before giving reception to such guests. Let it at least 


teach you that the more hidden the venom, the more 
dangerous it is. 

" Surely," said Hircan, " this husband was a great 
fool to bring such a gallant to sup by the side of such a 
handsome and virtuous woman." 

" I have seen the time," said Geburon, "when there 
was not a house in our country in which there was not 
a chamber for the good fathers ; but at present people 
know them so well that they are more feared than ad- 

" It seems to me," said Parlamente, " that a woman 
in bed ought never to let monk or priest into her room 
except to administer to her the sacraments of the 
church ; and for my part, when I summon any of them 
to my bedside, it may be taken for a sure sign that I am 
very far gone." 

" If everybody was as austere as you," said Enna- 
suite, " the poor clergy would no longer be free to see 
women when and where they pleased, and that would be 
Vv'orse to them than excommunication." 

" Have no fear on their account," said Saffredent ; 
" these worthies will never want for women." 

" Is this not too bad } " exclaimed Simontault. " It 
is they who unite us with our wives in the bonds of wed- 
lock, and they have the wickedness to try to disunite us, 
and make us break the oath they have imposed upon us." 

" It is a pity," said Oisille, " that they who have the 
administration of the sacraments make light of them in 
this manner. They ought to be burned alive." 

"You would do better to honour them than to blame 
them," replied Saffredent, "and to flatter instead of 
abusing them ; for it is they who have the power to burn 
and dishonour others, therefore, let them alone ; and let 
us see, whom does Oisille caJl on ? " 

Third day:\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 237 

"On Dagoucin," she replied ; "for I see he is so 
pensive that it strikes me he must have something good 
at the tip of his tongue." 

" Since I cannot and dare not say what I think," said 
Dagoucin, "at least I will speak of a man to whom 
cruelty was prejudicial and afterwards advantageous. 
Although love has such a good opinion of its own 
strength and potency that it likes to show itself quite 
naked, and finds it extremely irksome, nay, insupport- 
able to go cloaked, yet those \yho, in obedience to its 
dictates, make too great haste to disclose themselves 
often suffer for it, as happened to a gentleman of Castile, 
whose story I shall relate to you." 


Device of a Castilian to make a declaration of love to a queen, and 

what came of it. 

There was at the court of a king and queen of Cas- 
tile, whose names history does not mention, a gentleman 
of such good birth and comely person that his equal 
there was not in all Spain. Everyone held his endow- 
ments in admiration, but still more his eccentricity ; for 
it had never been perceived that he loved or courted 
any lady, though there were many at the court who 
might have fired ice itself ; but there was not one who 
could kindle the heart of Elisor, for so this gentleman 
was named. The queen, who was a woman of great 
virtue, but a woman, nevertheless, and not more exempt 
than the rest of her sex from that flame which is the 
more violent the more it is compressed — the queen, I 


say, surprised that this gentleman did not attach him- 
self to any of her ladies, asked him one day if it was 
true that he was as indifferent as he appeared. He re- 
plied, that if she saw his heart as she saw his face, she 
would not have asked him that question. Eager to 
know what he meaiut,. she pressed him so hard that he 
confessed he loved a lady whom he believed to be the 
most virtuous in all Christendom. She did all she could 
by entreaties and commands to make him say who the 
lady was, but all to no purpose ; till at last she pre- 
tended to be most deeply incensed against him, and 
swore that she would never speak to him again if he did 
not name the lady he loved so passionately. To escape 
from her importunities, he was forced to say that he 
would rather die than do what she required of him ; but 
at last, finding that he was about to be deprived of the 
honour of seeing her, and to be cast out of her favour 
for not declaring a truth in itself so seemly that no one 
could take it in bad part, he said to her, trembling with 
emotion, " I cannot and dare not, madam, name the per- 
son ; but I will show her to you the first time we go to 
the chase ; and I am sure that you will say, as welJ as I, 
that she is the most beautiful and most accomplished 
lady in the world." 

After this reply, the queen went to the chase sooner 
than she would otherwise have done. Elisor had notice 
of this, and prepared to wait on her majesty as usual 
He had got made for himself a great steel mirror in the 
shape of a corslet, and this he placed on his chest, con 
cealed beneath a mantle of black frieze, all bordered 
with purl and gold. He rode a black horse, very richly 
caparisoned. His harness was all gilded and enamelled 
black in the Moorish fashion, and his black silk hat had 
ti buckle adorned with precious stones, and having in 

•*And what did you see in the mirror?" " Nothing but myself," 

said the Queen. 

Third day. \ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE 2 39 

the centre, for a device, a Love concealed by Force 
His sword, poniard, and the devices upon them, corre- 
sponded to the rest ; in short, he was admirably ac- 
coutred ; and he was such a good horseman that all who 
saw him neglected the pleasures of the chase to see the 
paces and the leaps which Elisor made his horse per- 
form. After escorting the queen to the place where, 
the toils were spread, he alighted and went to aid her 
majesty to dismount. At the moment she held out her 
arms he opened his cloak, which covered his new cuirass, 
and said, " Be pleased, madam, to look here ; " and with- 
out awaiting her reply, he set her gently on the ground. 

When the chase was ended, the queen returned to 
the palace without speaking to Elisor. After supper she 
called him to her, and told him he was the greatest liar 
she had ever seen, for he had promised to show her at 
the chase the lady of his love, and yet he had done no 
such thing ; but for her part, she was resolved for the 
future to make no account of him. Elisor, fearing that 
the queen had not understood what he had said to her, 
replied that he had kept his word, and that he had shown 
her not only the woman, but also that thing in all the 
world which he loved best. Affecting ignorance of his 
meaning, she declared she was not aware that he had 
shown her any of the ladies. " That is true," replied 
Elisor ; "but what did I show you when you dismounted 
from your horse .■* ' 

" Nothing," said the queen, " but a mirror you had 
on your chest." 

'• And what did you see in the mirror } " 

" Nothing but myself." 

" Consequently, madam, T have kept my word and 
obeyed you. Never did anything enter my heart but 
that which you saw when you looked at my chest. She 

240 'J'lli^ ItEPTAMEKON OF THE {Novd 24 

who was there pictured is the only one whom I love, 
revere, and adore, not as a woman merely, but as an 
earthly divinity, on whom my life and death depend. 
The only favour I ask of you, madam, is that the perfect 
passion, which has been life to me whilst concealed, may 
not be my death now that I have declared it. If I am 
worthy that you should regard me and receive me as 
your most impassioned servant, suffer me at least to live, 
as I have hitherto done, upon the blissful consciousness 
that I have dared to give my heart to a being so perfect, 
and so worthy of all honour, that I must be content to 
love her, though I can never hope to be loved in re- 
turn. If the knowledge you now possess of my intense 
love does not render me more agreeable to your eyes 
than heretofore, at least do not deprive me of life, which 
for me consists in the bliss of seeing you as usual. I 
now receive from you no other favour than that which 
is absolutely necessary for my existence. If I have less, 
you will have a servant the less, and will lose the best 
and most affectionate one you have ever had or ever 
will have." 

The queen, whether it vi^as that she might appear 
other than she really was, or that she might put his love 
for her to a longer proof, or that she loved another whom 
she would not forsake for him, or, lastly, that she was 
glad to have this lover in reserve in case her heart 
should become vacant through any fault which might 
possibly be committed by him whom she loved already, 
said to him, in a tone which expressed neither anger 
nor satisfaction, " I will not ask you, Elisor, although I 
know not the power of love, how you can have been so 
presumptuous and so extravagant as to love me ; for I 
know that the heart of man is so little at his own com- 
mand that one cannot love or hate as one chooses. But 

Third day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 2 4 1 

since you have so well concealed your feelings, I desire 
to know how long you have entertained them ? " 

Elisor, looking in her beautiful face, and hearing her 
inquire about his malady, was not without hopes that 
she would afford him some relief ; but, on the other hand, 
seeing the self-command and the gravity with which she 
questioned him, he feared he had to do with a judge 
who was about to pronounce sentence against him. Not- 
withstanding this fluctuation between hope and fear, he 
protested that he had loved her since her early youth ; 
but that it was only within the last seven years he had 
been conscious of his pain, or rather of a malady so 
agreeable that he would rather die than be cured. 

" Since you have been constant for seven years," 
said the queen, " I must be no more precipitate in behev- 
mg you than you have been in declaring your love to me. 
Therefore, if you speak the truth, I wish to convince 
myself of it in a manner that shall leave no room for 
doubt ; and if I am satisfied with the result of the trial, 
I will belies^e you to be such towards me as you swear 
that you are ; and then, when I find you to be indeed 
what you say, you shall find me to be what you wish." 

Elisor besought her to put him to any proof she 
pleased, there being nothing so hard that would not ap- 
pear to him very easy, in the hope that he might be happy 
enough to convince her of the perfect love he bore her. 
He only waited, he said, to be honoured with her com- 

" If you love me, Elisor, as much as you say," replied 

the queen, " I am sure that nothing will seem hard to 

you to obtain my good graces ; so I command you, by 

the desire you have of possessing them, and the fear of 

losing them, that to-morrow, without seeing me more, 

^ ou quit the court and go to a place where for seven 


242 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [A'oz'e/ 24. 

years you shall hear nothing of me, nor I of you. You 
know well that you love me, since you have had seven j 
years' experience of the fact. When I shall have a 
similar seven years' experience, I shall believe what all 
your protestations would fail to assure me of.'' 

This cruel command made Elisor believe at first that 
her intention was to get rid of him ; but, upon second 
thoughts, he accepted the condition, hoping that the 
proof would do more for him than all the words he could 
utter. " If I have lived seven years without any hope," 
he said, " under the painful necessity of dissembling my 
love, now that it is known to you, and that I have some 
gleam of hope, I shall pass the other seven years with 
patience and calmness. But, madam, since in obeying 
the command you impose upon me I am deprived of all 
the joy I have ever had in the world, what hope do you 
give me that, at the end of seven years, you will own me 
for your faithful servant .-' " 

Drawing a ring off her finger, " Let us cut this ring 
in two," said the queen ; " I will keep one half and you 
the other, in order that I may recognize you by that 
token, in case length of time makes me forget your 

Elisor took the ring, divided it in two, gave the queen 
one half, and kept the other. Then taking leave of her, 
more dead than those who have already given up the 
ghost, he went home to give orders for his departure. 
Sending his whole retinue to the country, he went away 
with only one attendant to a place so lonely and seques- 
tered that none of his relations and friends had any 
tidings of him for seven years. How he lived during 
that time, and what sorrow absence made him endure, 
are things beyond my telling ; but those who love can 
be at no loss to conceive them. 

Third day :\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 243 

Precisely at the end of seven years, and at the mo- 
ment when the queen was going to mass, a hermit with 
a long beard came to her, kissed her hand, and presented 
to her a petition, which she did not peruse at once, 
though her custom was to receive all the petitions that 
were presented to her, however poor were the people 
who preferred them. When mass was half said, she 
opened the petition, and found enclosed in it the half of 
the ring she had given to Elisor. This was an agreea- 
ble surprise for her, and before she read the paper, she 
ordered her almoner to bring her straightway the hermit 
who had presented the petition. The almoner sought 
for him in all directions, but all he could learn was that 
he had been seen to mount and ride away, but no one 
could tell which way he had gone. While awaiting the 
return of her almoner, the queen read the petition, which 
turned out to be a letter, composed in the best possible 
manner, and, but for the desire I feel to make it intelli- 
gible to you, I should never have ventured to translate 
it ; for I must beg you to understand, ladies, that the 
Castilian is better adapted than the French tongue to 
express the emotions of love. The letter was as fol- 
lows : 

•' Time, a mighty teacher, gave me perfectly to know 
the nature of love. Time was afterwards assigned me, 
that the incredulous one might see by my protracted 
woe what love could not convince her of. Time hath 
shown me on what foundation my heart built its great 
love. That foundation was your beauty, which con- 
cealed great cruelty. Time teaches me that beauty is 
nothing, and that cruelty is the cause of my weal. Ex- 
iled by the beauty whose regards I so yearned for, I 
have come to be more conscious of your extreme un 
kindness. I obey your cruel order, however, and am 

244 '^'^^^ JIEPTAMERON OF THE [Afm/el 24, 

perfectly content to do so ; for time has had such pity 
on me that I have wished to return to this place to bid 
you, not a good day, but a last farewell. Time has 
shown me love just as it is, poor and naked ; and I have 
no sense of it except regret. But time has likewise 
shown me the true love, which I have known only in 
that solitude where for seven years I have been doomed 
to mourn in silence. Through time I have come to 
know the love that dwells on high, at sight of which the 
other love vanishes, and I have given myself wholly to 
the one, and weaned my affections from the other. To 
that better love I devote my heart and my body, to do 
suit and service to it, and not to you. When I served 
you, you esteemed me nothing. I now give you back 
entirely the love you put into my heart, having no need 
either of it or you. I take my leave of cruelty, pain, 
torment, scorn, hatred, and the burning fire with which 
you are filled, rio less than you are adorned with beauty. 
T cannot better bid farewell to all woes and pains and 
intolerable distresses, and to the hell of the amorous 
woman, than in biding farewell to you, madam, without 
the least prospect that wherever you or I may be, we 
shall ever look upon each other more." 

This letter was not read without tears and incredible 
surprise and regret. Indeed, the queen could not but 
feel so keenly the loss of a servant who loved her so per- 
fectly, that not all her treasures, nor even her crown, 
could hinder her from being the poorest and most misera- 
ble princess in the world, since she had lost that which 
no wealth could replace. After hearing mass, she 
returned to her chamber, where she gave utterance to 
the lamentations her cruelty had merited. There was 
no mountain, rock, or forest to which she did not send in 
quest of the hermit ; but he who had taken him out 

Third day.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 245 

of her hands, hindered him from falling into them again, 
and removed him to Paradise before she could discover 
his retreat in this world. 

This example shows that no one can tell what can do 
him harm only and no good. Still less, ladies, should 
you carry distrust and incredulity so far as to lose your 
lovers through desiring to put them to too severe a 

" All my life long, Dagoucin," said Geburon, " I have 
heard the lady in question spoken of as the most virtuous 
woman in the world ; but now I regard her as the most 
cruel that ever lived." 

" It seems to me, however," said Parlamente, " that 
she did him no such great wrong, if he loved her as 
much as he said, in exacting from him seven 3^ears of 
trial. Men are so accustomed to lie on these occasions, 
that one cannot take too many precautions before trust- 
ing them — if they are ever to be trusted." 

" The ladies of our day," said Hircan, " are wiser 
than those of times past ; for in seven days' trial they are 
as sure with regard to a lover as others were in seven 

" Yet are there those in company," said Longarine, 
" who have been wooed for seven years without ever 
being won." 

" That is true," said Simontault ; " but with your 
leave they ought to be classed with the ladies of bygone 
times, for in the modern class they would not be re- 

" After all," said Oisille, " Elisor was greatly indebted 
to the queen, since she was the cause of giving his heart 
entirely to God." 

" It was great luck for him," said Saffredent, " to find 


God in his way ; for, crossed as he was, I wonder he did 
not give himself to the devil." 

" When your lady ill-used you," inquired Ennasuite, 
" did you give yourself to such a master ? " 

" Thousands of times ; but the devil would never 
take me, seeing that the tortures of hell were less than 
those she made me suffer, and that there is no devil 
more insupportable than a woman who is passionately 
loved and will not love in return." 

" If I was in your place, and entertained such senti- 
ments," said Parlamente, " I would never love a woman." 

"■Such has always been my unfortunate propensity," 
replied Saffredent, " that when I cannot command I 
think myself very happy in being able to serve. But tell 
me, pray, in conscience, now, do you applaud this princess 
for such excessive rigour .-' " 

" Yes," said Oisille, " for I believe she did not choose 
either to love or be loved." 

" That being the case," said Simontault, " why gi\ e 
him hopes after seven years should have passed .''" 

" You are right," said Longarine ; " and I think that 
ladies who do not choose to love should cut the matter 
short at once, and hold out no hopes to their suitors." 

" Perhaps," said Nomerfide, " she loved another who 
was not so worthy as Elisor, and preferred the worse 
man to the better." 

" It is my belief," said Saffredent, " that she was glad 
to keep him in play, that she might have him ready to 
her hand whenever she cast off the lover she then pre- 
ferred to him." 

" I see plainly," said Oisille, " that as long as the con- 
versation runs upon this topic, those who do not like to 
be treated harshly will say everything bad they can of us ; 
so be pleased. Dagoucin, to give your voice to some one." 

Third day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARKE. 247 

" I give it to Longarine," said he, " being assured that 
she will tell us something no\el and speak the very- 
truth without sparing either men or women." 

" Since you have such a good opinion of my sinceri- 
ty," said Longarine, " I will relate an anecdote of a great 
prince who surpassed in endowments all the princes of 
his time. Permit me also to remark, that falsehood and 
dissimulation are things which should be least of all used, 
unless in a case of extreme necessity. They are very 
ugly and disgraceful vices, especially in princes and great 
lords, whom truth becomes still more than other men. 
But there is no prince in the world, however glorious or 
rich he may be, who does not acknowledge the empire of 
love, and submit to its tyranny. Indeed, that arrogant 
god disdains all that is common, and delights only in 
working miracles everyday, such as weakening the strong, 
strengthening the weak, making fools of the wise, and 
knowing persons of the ignorant, favouring the passions, 
destroying reason, and, in a word, turning everything 
topsy-turvy. As princes are not exempt from it, no more 
so are they from the necessity in which they are put by 
the desire of amorous servitude. Thence it comes that 
they are forced to use falsehood, hypocrisy, and feigning, 
which, according to Maitre Jean de Meun, are means for 
vanquishing enemies. Though conduct of this nature is 
laudable in a prince, though it be censurable in all other 
men, I will recount to you the device employed by a 
young prince who tricked those who are used to trick all 
the world." 



Cunning contrivance of a young prince to enjoy the wife of an 

advocate of Paris. 

Among the advocates in Paris, there was one who was 
more esteemed than any nine others in his profession ; 
and as his knowledge and abiHty made him sought by all 
clients, he became the richest of all the men of the gown. 
Now, seeing that he had no children by his first wife, he 
thought he should have some by a second ; for though he 
was old, he had, nevertheless, the heart and the hope of 
a young man. He made choice of a Parisian of eighteen 
or nineteen, very handsome in face and complexion, and 
handsomer still in figure and plumpness. He loved her 
and treated her as well as possible ; but he had no chil- 
dren by her any more than by his first wife; which the 
fair one at last took sorely to heart. As youth cannot 
carry the burden of care very far, the advocate's young 
wife resolved to seek elsewhere the pleasure she did not 
find at home, and used to go to balls and feasts ; but this 
she did, nevertheless, with such outward propriety, and so 
much caution, that her husband could not take offence, 
for she was always with those ladies in whom he had most 

One day, when she was at a wedding entertainment, 
there happened to be present a young prince, who told 
me the story, and forbade me to name him. All I can 
tell you is that there never was, and never will be, I think, 
a prince in France of finer person and demeanour. The 
eyes and the countenance of the advocate's lady inspired 
the prince with love. He spoke to her so well, and with 

Third day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 249 

such grace, that she took pleasure in his discourse, and 
ingenuously owned to him that she had long had in her 
heart the love for which he craved, and begged he would 
spare himself the pains of trying to persuade her to a 
thing to which love had already made her consent at mere 
sight. The frankness of love having bestowed on the 
prince what was well worth the pains of being won by 
time, he failed not to thank the god who favoured him ; 
and he plied his opportunity so well, that they agreed 
there and then upon the means of seeing each other in 
less crowded company. The time and the place being 
assigned, the prince appeared punctually, but in disguise, 
that he might not compromise the honour of the fair one. 
As he did not wish to be known by the rogues and 
thieves who roam by night, he had himself escorted by 
some trusty gentlemen, from whom he separated on 
entering the street where the lady resided, saying to 
them, " If you hear no noise within a quarter of an hour, 
go away, and return about three or four o'clock." The 
quarter of an hour having expired, and no noise having 
been heard, the gentlemen withdrew. 

The prince went straight to the advocate's house, and 
found the door open as he had been promised, but on 
going up the staircase he met the advocate with a candle 
in his hand, who saw him first. Love, however, which 
gives wit and boldness in proportion to the crossings and 
thwartings it occasions, prompted the prince to go up at 
once to the advocate and say to him, " You know, master 
advocate, the confidence which I and all my house repose 
in you, and that I regard you as one of my best and most 
faithful servants. I am come to see you privately, as 
well to recommend my affairs to you as to beg you will 
give me something to drink, for I am very thirsty, and 
not let anybody know that I have been here. When I 


quit you, I shall have to go to another place, where I 
should not like to be known." 

The poor man, deHghted with the honour the prince 
did him by this familiar visit, begged him to enter his 
room, and told his wife to prepare a collation of the best 
fruits and the most exquisite confections she could find ; 
which she did right gladly, with all possible daintiness. 
Though she was in kerchief and mantle, and appeared 
to more than usual advantage in that nigligey the prince 
affected not to look at her, but talked continually about 
his business to her husband, who had always had the 
management of it. Whilst the wife knelt before the 
prince to present him some confections, and the husband 
was going to the buffet to fetch him something to drink, 
she found time to tell him not to fail on departing to 
enter a garderobe on the right, where she would soon 
join him. When he had drunk, he thanked the advocate, 
who wished by all means to accompany him : but this 
the prince would not allow, assuring him he was going to 
a place where he had no need of company. Then turn- 
ing to the wife, he said, " I will not deprive you of your 
good husband, who is one of my old servants. You are 
so happy in having him that you have reason to thank 
God. You must serve and obey him well ; and if you 
did otherwise you would be very ungrateful." So saying, 
he went out, shut the door after him, that he might not 
be followed to the staircase, and entered the garderobe, 
where the fair one joined him as soon as her husband 
was asleep. She took him into a cabinet as elegant as 
could be, but in truth there was nothing in it handsomer 
than he and she ; and I doubt not that she kept word 
with him as to all she had promised. He left her at the 
hour he had told his people, and found them at the place 
where he had desired them to wait for him. 

She was in kerchief and mantle, and appeared to more 
than usual advantage in that negligee 

Photographed from Lift 
Copyright. 1002, by D. Treiiot. 

Third day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. atjl 

As the intrigue was of long duration, the prince chose 
a shorter way to go to the advocate's ; this was to pass 
through a monastery. He managed matters so well with 
the prior that every night the porter opened the door 
for him towards midnight, and did the same when he 
returned. The advocate's house not being far from the 
monastery, he took no one with him. Notwithstanding 
the prince led the life I have described, still he loved 
and feared God, so true it is that man is a whimsical 
mixture of good and evil, and a perpetual contradiction. 
On his way to the advocate's he only passed through the 
monastery, but on his return he never failed to remain a 
long time at prayer in the church. The monks, seeing 
him on his knees as they went to matins, or returned 
from them, believed he was the most pious of men. 

The prince had a sister who was much in the habit 
of frequenting that convent. As she loved her brother 
above all men, she used to commend him to the prayers 
of all the good people she knew. One day, when she 
was thus speaking for him with great earnestness to the 
prior of this monastery, the good father replied, "Why, 
madam, what is that you ask of me .'* You name the 
very man above all others to whose prayers I most desire 
to be myself commended ; for if he is not pious and 
righteous, I never expect to see one that is so." There- 
upon he quoted the text which says that " Blessed is he 
who can do evil, and doeth it not." The sister, who 
longed to know what proof the prior had of her brother's 
sanctity, questioned him so earnestly that he said to her, 
as if he was revealing a secret of the confessional, " Is it 
not a marvellous and goodly thing to see a young and 
handsome prince abandoning pleasures and repose to 
come frequently to our matins ? He does not come like 
a prince who seeks to be honoured of men, but quite 

^52 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [A'evei 2-^. 

alone, like a simple monk, and he goes and hides himself 
in one of our chapels. This devotion so confounds my 
brethren and myself, that we do not think ourselves 
worthy to be called men of religion in comparison with 

The sisier did not knew what to think of this ; for 
though her brother was very mundane, she knew, never- 
theless, that he had a good conscience, that he believed 
in God and loved him much ; but she could never have 
imagined that he would make a practice of going to church 
at that hour. As soon as she saw him, she told him 
what a good opinion the monks had of him. He could 
not help laughing, and in such a manner that she, who 
knew him as she did her own heart, readily guessed that 
there was something concealed under this pretended 
devotion. She teased him so much that at last he told 
her the whole truth, as you have heard from me, and as 
she did me the honour to relate it to me.* 

* Francis I. is the young prince who figures in this novel. The 
same story has been told of him, with additional circumstances, bv 
some historians and others. It is thus related by a physician 
named Louis Guyon, Sieur de la Nauche, who flourished at the end 
of the i6th century. " Francis I. was enamoured of a lady of o-reat 
beauty and great grace, the wife of an advocate of Paris, whom I 
will not name, for he has left children in high estate, and who are 
persons of good repute. The lady would never comply with the I 
king's desires, but on the contrary repulsed him with many rude 
words, which hurt him sore. Knowing this, some courtiers and 
royal pimps told the king he might take her authoritatively and by 
the power of his royalty. One of them actually went and said this 
to the lady, who reported it to her husband. The advocate saw 
plainly that they must quit the realm, and that, moreover, they 
should find it very hard to escape, unless they obeyed. Finally, the 
husband allowed his wife to comply with the king's desire ; and that 
he might be no hindrance, he pretended to have business in the 
country for eight or ten days. Meanwhile he remained concealed 
in Paris, frequenting the brothels, trying to catch the pox to give to 


Third day.] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 253 

You see by this, ladies, that there are no advocates 
so crafty, or monks so shrewd, but that they may be 
tricked in case of need when one loves well. Since, 
then, love teaches how to trick the tricksters, how much 
reason have we to fear it, we who are poor simple crea- 
tures ? 

" Though I guess pretty well," said Geburon, " who 
is the hero of this tale, I cannot help saying that he is 
to be praised for having kept the secret ; for there are 

his wife, that the king might take it from her. He quickly got what 
he sought, infected his wife, and she the king, who gave it to several 
other women with whom he conversed ; and he never could be 
thoroughly cured, for all the rest of his life he was unhealthy, sad, 
peevish, and inaccessible." {Diverses Leqons de Louis Guyon, 
neur de la Nauche. Lyon, 1610, t. il, p. 109.) Brantome also 
speaks of the malady contracted by the king through his gallantries, 
and says that it shortened his life ; but he does not mention any 
woman in particular, or allude to the story of the advocate's wife. 
" Many have thought that she was no other than ' La belle 
Feronniere,' so called because she was married to an advocate of 
the Le F^ron family, many members of which were distinguished in 
the bar of Paris." 

"We must then," say the Bibliophiles Francais, "number 
among apocryphal anecdotes the last and vilest part of the adven- 
ture of the advocate of Paris. What is true, Margaret has made 
known to us ; modern historians, even those who have shown them- 
selves most unfavourable to Francis I., have not reproduced the 
fact stated by Louis Guyon. M. Genin, editor of Margaret's 
letters, has even published the postscript of a letter of Cardinal 
d'Armagnac, which proves that at least a year before his death the 
king was in perfect health. [?y&Q Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoii- 
leme, &c., 1841, 8vo., p. 473.) Thus is annihilated the ignoble 
accusation of a shameful disease which should have hastened the 
death of Francis L" 

In Grammont's Memoirs it is related that the Duke of York, 
afterwards James II., was the victim of the same sort of revenge on 
the part of a jealous husband as that attributed to the advocate of 

254 THE HEPTAMERON- OF HIE [.Voz'f/ 2^ 

few great lords who give themselves any concern either 
about the honour of women or public scandal, provided 
they have their pleasure. Frequently, even, they act in 
such a manner as to make people believe more than the 

" It would be well," said Oisille, " if all yOung lords 
followed this example, for often the scandal is worse 
than the sin." 

"You may well believe," said Noraerfide, "that the 
prayers he offered up in church were very sincere and 
very acceptable to God." 

" That is not a question for you to decide," said Par- 
lamente, "for, perhaps, his repentance was such on his 
return from his assignation that his sin was forgiven." 

" It is very difficult," said Hircan, " to repent of a 
thing that gives such pleasure. For my part, I have 
often confessed, but hardly repented it." 

" If one does not repent, it were better not to con- 
fess," observed Oisille. 

"Sin displeases me, madam," rejoined Hircan. "I 
am vexed at offending God ; but pleasure pleases me." 

" You would be very glad, you and others like you," 
remarked Parlamente, " that there were neither God nor 
law but what agreed with your own inclination." 

" I confess," said Hircan, " I should be glad if my 
pleasures were as pleasing to God as they are to me. 
In that case, I would often give matter for rejoicing." 

" You will not make a new God, however," said 
Geburon ; " and so the best thing we can do is to obey 
the one we have. But let us leave these disputes to 
cheologians, and see to whom Longarine will give her 

"To Saffredent," said Longarine, "on condition that 
he tells us the finest tale he can recollect, and that he is 

Third day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 2^5 

not SO intent on speaking ill of women as not to do 
them justice when he can say anything to their advan- 


" With all my heart," said Saffredent. " I recollect, 
quite a propos, a story of a loose woman and a staid 
one ; so you may choose whichever example of the two 
you prefer. You will see from this story that love 
makes bad acts be done by persons of bad heart ; it 
also makes people of worth do things deserving of 
praise ; for love is good in itself, but the depravity of 
the individual often makes it take a new title, such as 
lascivious, light, cruel, or vile. You will see, neverthe- 
less, from the tale I am about to tell, that love does not 
change the heart, but makes it appear such as it is : 
wanton in the wanton, sober in the sober." 


How the Lord of Avannes was weaned from a dissolute amour 
with a lady of Pampeluna by the advice and sisterly affection 
of a virtuous lady. 

During the reign of King Louis XII., there was a 
young lord named Monsieur D'Avannes, son of Mon- 
sieur d'Albret, the brother of John, King of Navarre, 
with whom D'Avannes usually resided. This young 
lord was so handsome, and had such an engaging de- 
meanour at the age of fifteen, that he seemed to be made 
only to be beloved and admired ; and so he was by all who 
saw him, and above all by a lady who lived in Pampeluna, 
in Navarre, and was married to a very wealthy man, 


with whom she Hved happily. Though she was but 
three-and-twenty, yet, as her husband was nearly fifty, 
she dressed so modestly that she had more the appear- j 
ance of a widow than of a married woman She was 
never seen at weddings or festivities but with her hus- 
band, whose worth she prized so highly that she pre- 
ferred it to the good looks of all other men. The hus- 
band, on his side, knew her to be so discreet, and had so 
much confidence in her, that he entrusted all the affairs 
of the house to her prudence. 

This rich man and his wife were one day invited 
to the wedding of one of their female relations. 
D'Avannes was present to do honour to the bridal, and 
also because he was fond of dancing, in which he ac- 
quitted himself better than any man of his day. When 
dinner was over and the ball began, the rich man begged 
D'Avannes to dance. The latter asked with whom he 
would have him dance : whereupon the rich man, taking 
his wife by the hand, presented her to D'Avannes, and 
said, ''■ If there was a handsomer lady in the room, mon- 
sieur, or one so much at my disposal, I would present 
her to you as I do this one, begging you, monsieur, to 
do me the honour to dance with her." The prince 
gladly complied ; and he was still so young that he took 
more pleasure in dancing and skipping than in gazing 
on ladies' charms. It was not so with his partner, who 
paid more attention to the handsome figure and good 
looks of her cavalier than to the dance ; but she took 
care not to let this appear. 

Supper time being come, M. D'Avannes took leave 
of the company and retired to the chateau. The rich 
man escorted him thither, mounted on his mule, and 
said to him on the way, " Monsieur, you have to-day 
done so much honour to my relations and myself that I 

Third day. \ Q UEEN OP NA VARRE. 2 1; ^ 

should be ungrateful if I did not make you every offer- 
ing in my power. I know, monsieur, that lords like you, 
who have strict and close-handed fathers, have often 
more need of money than we, who, with our small retinue 
and good management, do nothing but amass. God, who 
has given me everything that could be desired in a wife, 
has thought fit to leave me still something to wish for in 
this world, since I am deprived of the joy which fathers 
derive from children. I know, monsieur, that it does not 
belong to me to adopt you ; but if you please to re- 
gard me as your servant, and confide your little affairs 
to me, as far as a hundred thousand crowns may go you 
shall never want for aid in your need." 

M. D'Avannes was very glad of this offer, for he had 
just such a father as the other had mentioned ; and after 
thanking his generous friend, he called him his father 
by alliance. Thenceforth the rich man was so fondly 
attached to M. D'Avannes, that he failed not to ask him 
every morning and evening if he wanted anything ; and 
he made no secret of this to his wife, who was much 
pleased with it. M. D'Avannes never afterwards wanted 
anything he could desire. He often went to see his 
father by alliance, and eat with him ; and when he did 
not find him at home, the wife gave him whatever he 
asked for, and spoke to him so sagely, exhorting him to 
virtue, that he feared and loved her above all women 
in the world. For her part, having the fear of God 
and honour before her eyes, 'she contented herself with 
seeing and speaking to him, which is enough for a virtu- 
ous love ; nor did she ever give him any indication from 
which he could conjecture that she entertained for him 
any other than a sisterly and Christian regard. About 
the age of seventeen, M. D'Avannes began to attach 
himself more to the ladies than he hadbeeu used to do ; 



and though he would more gladly have loved his own 
good lady than any other, the fear of losing her friend- 
ship hindered him from speaking, and made him fix his 
choice elsewhere. 

He addressed himself to a lady near Pampeluna, who 
had a house in the town, and had married a young man 
whose ruling passion was horses, dogs, and hawks. For 
her sake he gave a thousand entertainments, such as 
tournaments, games, races, wrestling-matches, masque- 
rades, balls, &c. ; but as the husband was of a jealous 
temper, and the lady's father and mother knew her 
to be fair and frolicsome, and were afraid of her trip- 
ping, they watched her so closely that all M. D'Avannes 
could do was to whisper a word or two in her ear at 
a ball, although he well knew, and this made the matter 
still more provoking, that nothing but time and place 
was wanting for the consummation of their mutual in- 
clinations. He went to his good father, told him he had 
a mind to visit Notre Dame de Montferrat, and begged 
he would receive his whole retinue into his house, for it 
was his wish to go alone. This request was instantly 
granted ; but as love is a great prophet, and as the wife 
was under the influence of that power, she guessed the 
truth at once, and could not help saying to M. D'Avan- 
nes, " The Notre Dame you adore, monsieur, is not out- 
side the walls of this town. Take care of your health, I 
beseech you." M. D'Avannes, who, as I have already 
said, feared and loved her, blushed so much at these 
words that he tacitly betrayed the truth, and went away. 

After buying two handsome Spanish horses, he 
dressed himself as a groom, and disguised himself so 
well, that no one could have known him. The husband 
of the wanton lady, bemg fond of horses above all things, 
saw the two belonging to M. D'Avannes, and imme- 

Third day \ Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 359 

diately offered to buy them. The bargain being con- 
cluded, he took particular notice of the groom, and seeing 
that he managed the horses very well, asked if he would 
enter his service. M. D'Avannes at once agreed to do 
so, and said he was a poor groom, who could do nothing 
but take care of horses, but this he could do so well that 
his master would be satisfied with him. The gentleman 
gave him the charge of all his horses, and when he 
reached home told his wife that he was going to the 
chciteau, and that he begged her to look after his groom 
and his horses. As much to please her husband as be- 
cause she had no other recreation, the lady went to see 
the horses, and noticed the new groom, who seemed to her 
a good-looking man ; but she did not recognize him. See- 
ing this, he made his obeisance to her in the Spanish fash- 
ion, took her hand and kissed it, and in so doing pressed it 
so strongly that she knew him, for he had often done the 
same thing in dancing with her. From that moment 
she thought of nothing but how she might contrive to 
speak with him in private ; and this she did that very 
evening. She was invited to an entertainment to which 
her husband was to have taken her ; but she feigned in- 
disposition, and would not go. Her husband, not wish- 
ing to disappoint his friends, begged her, since she would 
not accompany him, to look after his dogs and his horses, 
and see that they wanted for nothing. This commission 
was most agreeable to her ; but the better to play her 
part, she replied that, since he would not employ her in 
higher things, she would prove to him, by her care for 
the least, how much she desired to please him. 

No sooner was her husband gone than she went to 
the stable, where she found that something was not as it 
should be. To set matters right, she gave so many orders 
to the men that she was left alone with the head groom, 


and, for fear of anyone coming upon them, she told him 
to go into the garden and wait for her in a httle corner at 
the end of an alley, which he did with such haste that 
he had not time even to thank her. Having given her 
orders in the stables, she went to see the dogs, and busied 
herself so much about them, that it seemed as though 
from being mistress she had become servant. All this 
being done, she went back to her chamber, and com- 
plained so much of fatigue that she had to go to bed. 
All her women withdrew except one, in whom she spe 
cially confided ; and this one she sent to the garden, with 
orders to brinsr her the man she would find at the end of 
the alley. The chambermaid found the head groom, 
brought him straightway to her mistress, and then 
mounted guard outside, to give warning should the hus- 
band return. M. D'Avannes, finding himself alone with 
his fair one, stripped off his groom's dress, his false nose 
and false beard, and not as a timorous groom, but in his 
proper character, boldly stepped into bed to her without 
asking leave, and was received as the handsomest man 
of his time by the most wanton woman in the country. 
There he remained until the return of her husband, 
when he resumed his mask, and quitted the place he had 
so cunningly usurped. 

The husband, on entering his courtyard, found that 
his wife had carefully executed his orders, and thanked 
her for it. " I have only done my duty, my dear," she 
said. " It is true that if one had not an eye on the var- 
lets, you have not a dog but what would be mangy, or a I 
horse but would be out of condition ; but as I know their 
laziness and your wishes, you shall be better served than 
ever you have been." The husband, who thought he 
had got the best groom in the world, asked her what she 
thought of him, "I assure vou, monsieur," said she, 

Third day\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE 261 

" that he knows his business as well as any man you 
could find. Still he requires to be kept to his work, for 
he is the sleepiest varlet I ever saw." The wedded pair 
were on better terms with each other than they had ever 
been, and the husband became quite cured of his jealousy, 
because his wife was now as attached to her household 
concerns as she had previously been fond of feasts, dances, 
and company. Formerly she used always to spend four 
hours at her toilette ; but now she dressed very simply. 
Her husband, and those who did not know that a worse 
devil had driven out a lesser, extolled her for so happy a 
change. Meanwhile, this virtuous-seeming hypocrite 
led such a licentious life that reason, conscience, order, 
or moderation had no longer any place in her. M. 
D'Avannes, being young and of a delicate constitution, 
could not long sustain all this ; but became so pale and 
thin that he had no need of a mask to conceal his identity. 
His extravagant love for this woman had so infatuated 
him that he imagined he had strength to accomplish 
devoirs for which that of Hercules would not have been 
sufficient. Having fallen ill at last, and being teased by 
the lady, who was not so fond of him sick as sound, he 
asked for his discharge, which the husband granted with 
regret, making him promise to return as soon as he was 

M, D'Avannes had no need of a horse for his depart- 
ure, for he had only the length of a street to travel. He 
went at once to his good father's and found there only 
his wife, whose virtuous love for him had not at all 
decreased through absence. When she saw him so pale 
and thin, she could not help saying to him, " I do not 
know, monsieur, what is the present state of your con- 
science, but I do not perceive that your pilgrimage has 
increased your plumpness. 1 am very much mistaken it 

262 THE- HEPTAMERON Of THE [Noz'el 2& 

your travels by night have not fatigued you more than 
those by day. If you had made the journey to Jerusalem 
on toot, you would have come back more sunburnt, but 
not so lean and weak. Recollect this ride, and pay no 
more devotions to such images, which, instead of resus- 
citatnig the dead, bring the livmg to death. I should 
say more to you, but I see that, if you have sinned, you 
have been so punished that it would be cruel to add to 
your distress." 

M. D\A.vannes, more ashamed than penitent, replied, 
" I have heard, madam, that repentance follows close 
upon the fault. This I experience, to my cost ; and I 
pray you, madam, to excuse my youth, which is punished 
by the experience of the mischief it would not be warned 

The lady changed the conversation, and made him 
lie down in a fine bed, where he remained for a fortnight, 
taking nothing but restoratives ; and the husband and 
the wife were so assiduous in their attentions that one or 
other was always with him. Though he had committed 
the folly you have heard against the feelings and the 
advice of the excellent lady, she nevertheless continued 
to love him as before, in the hope that, when this great 
fire of youth had passed away, he would reform and come 
to love rightly, and then he would be all her own. During 
the fortnight he remained in her house, she talked so 
much and so well to inspire him with a love of virtue, 
that he began to hate vice, and to be disgusted with his 

Gazing one day on the virtuous lady, who appeared 
to him much handsomer than the wanton, and knowing 
her excellent qualities better than he had ever done, he 
banished all fear, and thus addressed her : " I see no 
better means, madam, of becoming as good as you would 

Third day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 263 

have me to be, than to turn my whole heart to the love 
of virtue. Pray tell me, madam, I beseech you, would 
you not have the goodness to give me all the aid in your 
power to that end ? " 

The lady, delighted to see him come to the point to 
which she wished to lead him, replied, " I promise you, 
monsieur, that if you love virtue as much as becomes a 
lord of your rank, I will spare nothing to render you all 
the services of which I may be capable." 

" Remember your promise, madam," returned M. 
D' Avannes ; " and consider that God, whom the Christian 
knows only by faith, has deigned to assume flesh like 
that of the sinner, in order that, attracting our flesh to 
the love of his humanity, He might also attract our 
spirits to the love of his divinity, thus employing visible 
things to make us love the invisible. As this virtue, 
which I wish to love all my life long, has nothing visible 
about it except the outward effects it produces, it is 
necessary that it should assume some body, in order to 
make itself known to men. It has assumed that body, 
madam, in putting on yours, the most perfect it could 
have found. I own, therefore, that you are not only 
virtuous, but actually virtue itself ; and I, who see that 
virtue shine beneath the veil of the most beautiful body 
that ever existed, wish to serve and honour it all my life, 
and to renounce for ever the love that is criminal and 

The lady, though no less delighted than surprised to 
hear him speak thus, was able completely to conceal her 
feelings, and said, " I will not take upon me, monsieur, to 
reply to your theology ; but as I am much more disposed 
to fear the evil than to believe the good, I beg you will 
not address me in a language which gives you so poor an 
opinion of those who are weak enough to believe it. I 

264 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \Nm.>el zfy 

know very well that I am a woman like any other, and 3 
woman that has so many defects that virtue would do 
something greater in transforming me into itself than in 
transforming itself into me, unless it wished to remain 
unknown to the world. No one would think of recog- 
nizing it under such a garb as mine. Howbeit, with all 
my faults, my lord, I still love you as much as a woman 
can and ought who fears God and cherishes honour ; but 
this love shall not be declared to you until your heart 
is capable of the patience which a virtuous love requires. 
When that time comes, monsieur, I know what I shall 
have to tell you. Meanwhile, be assured that your wel- 
fare, your person, and your honour are dearer to me 
than to yourself." 

Trembling, and with tears in his eyes, M. D'Avannes 
begged to be allowed to take a kiss as a pledge of her 
word, but she refused, saying that she did not choose to 
violate the custom of the country for him. Presently 
the husband arrived. " I am so much indebted, father," 
said D'Avannes, " to you and your wife, that I entreat 
you always to regard me as your son." The good man 
willingly expressed his assent. " Let me kiss you, 
then, in assurance of that affection," continued D'Avan- 
nes. This was done. " If I were not afraid," he said 
next, " of contravening the law, I would request the 
same favour of my mother, your wife." The husband 
desired his wife to kiss him, which she did without tes- 
tifying either repugnance or alacrity ; whilst the fire 
which the previous conversation had already kindled in 
the heart of M. D'Avannes grew hotter at this kiss so 
ardently longed for, and before so peremptorily denied 

After this M. D'Avannes went back to the king, his 
brother, and told all sorts of stories about his journey 

Third day ] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 265 

to Montferrat To his great vexation, he learned that 
his brother was going to Oly and Taffares, and fearing 
that the journey would be a long one, he resolved to try 
before his departure if the lady were not better disposed 
towards him than she appeared. To this end he went to 
lodge in town, and took, in the street in which she lived, 
a dilapidated old wooden house, to which he set fire 
about midnight. The whole town was in great alarm ; 
the rich man was roused by the noise, and calling out 
from the window to know where the fire was, he was 
told that it was at the house of M. D'Avannes. Hurry- 
ing thither with all his domestics, he found the young 
lord in the street in his shirt. Such was his pity for 
him that, taking him in his arms, and covering him with 
his own robe, he hastened home with him, and said to 
his wife, " Here is a prisoner, my dear, whom I commit 
to your custody. Treat him like mysell." 

He was no sooner gone than M. D'Avannes, who 
would have been glad to be treated as her husband, 
jumped into the bed, hoping that the opportunity and 
the place would inspire the chaste lady with more 
humane sentiments ; but he was quite disappointed, 
for as he got in at one side she got out at the other, 
carrying away her chamarre, which she put on ; and 
seating herself at the bedside, she said, " What ! mon- 
sieur, did you imagine that opportunity could change a 
virtuous heart } Know that as gold becomes purer in 
the fire, so a chaste heart grows stronger amid tempta- 
tions. Often it grows stronger among them than else- 
where, and becomes more cold the more it is attacked 
by its opposite. Be assured, then, that if I had enter- 
tained any other sentiments than those I have avowed, I 
should not have lacked means, and that I neglect them 
pnly because I do not choose to use them. If you would 


have me continue to love you, banish not only the de 
sire but the thought that, do what you may, you can 
ever bring me to be other than what I am." 

Her women now coming in, she ordered them to pre- 
pare a collation of all sorts of confections ; but D'Avan- 
nes could neither eat nor drink, so great was his vexa- 
tion at having missed his blow, and exposed himself, as 
he feared, by that demonstration of his desires, to lose 
the position of familiarity in which he had been with 
her. The husband, having taken measures for extm- 
guishing the fire, returned, and prevailed on M. D'Avan 
nes to pass the night in his house ; but he passed it in 
such a manner that his eyes were more occupied in 
weeping than in sleeping. He went and bade them 
adieu at the bedside very early in the morning, and 
plainly perceived, in kissing the lady, that she felt more 
pity than anger for his fault. This was a fresh brand to 
the fire of his love. After dinner he set out for Taffares 
with the king ; but before his departure he went twice 
more to take a final farewell of his good father and his 
wife, who, since her husband's first command, no langer 
made any scruple to kiss M. DAvannes as her son. 

There is no doubt that the more virtue did violence 
to the poor lady's eyes and countenance, constraining 
them to hide the fire that was in her heart, the more it. 
augmented and became insupportable. Unable, then, 
any longer to endure the conflict between love and 
honour, which yet she had resolved should never be 
manifested, and having no longer the pleasure and con- 
solation of seeing and conversing with him for whom 
she lived, she fell into a continuous fever, caused by a 
melancholy humour which she was forced to conceal, 
and which rendered the extremities of her body quite 
cold, though the inside burned continually. The phy- 

Third day.] Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 26'J 

sicians, a class of men on whose hands hangs not the 
health of men, began to despair on account of an ob' 
struction of the spleen, which rendered her melancholy, 
and they advised the husband to warn his wife to think 
of her conscience, saying that she was in the hands of 
God ; as if people in good health were not there also. 
The husband, who was excessively fond of his wife, was 
so overwhelmed at this news that he wrote, for his own 
consolation, to M. D'Avannes, begging he would take 
the trouble to come and see them, in the hope that his 
presence would be a comfort to the patient. M. D'Avan- 
nes, on receipt of the letter, instantly started off post- 
haste, and on entering the house, he found the domestics 
of both sexes as full of grief for their mistress as she 
deserved. Shocked at what he saw, he remained at the 
door as if paralyzed, until his good father came and em- 
braced him with tears, and without being able to utter a 
word, led him to the sick woman's chamber. Turning 
her languid eyes full upon him, she held out her hand, 
and drew hira towards her with all the little strength 
left her. 

" The moment is come, my lord," she said, embracing 
him, "when all dissimulation must cease, and I must 
declare to you the truth I have had so much difficulty in 
concealing ; it is, that if you have had much love for 
me, I have had no less for you. But my pain is greater 
than yours, because I have been compelled to hide it. 
Conscience and honour have never allowed me to declare 
to you the sentiments of my heart, for fear of augment- 
ing in you a passion which I wished to diminish. But 
know, my lord, that the no which I have said to you so 
often, and which it has cost me so much pain to pro- 
nounce, is the cause of my death. I die with satis- 
faction, since, by God's grace, notwithstanding the 

2 68 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \Ncrcel 2^ 

excess of my love, I have nothing to reproach myself 
with in regard to piety and honour. I say the excess of 
my love, for a less fire than mine has destroyed greater 
and stronger edifices. I die happy, since, before quit- 
ting this world, I can declare my affection, which cor- 
responds to yours, save only that the honour of men and 
that of women are not the same thing. I pray you, my 
lord, henceforth not to be afraid to address yourself to 
the greatest and most virtuous ladies you can ; for it is 
hearts of that character which have the strongest pas- 
sions, and which control them most wisely ; and your 
grace, good looks, and good breeding will always enable 
you to gather the fruits of your lov'e. I will not ask you 
to pray to God for me, for I know that the gate of 
Paradise is not shut against true lovers, and that love is 
a fire which punishes lovers so well in this life that they 
are exempted from the sharp torment of purgatory. 
And now, farewell, my lord ; I comm.end to you your 
good father, my husband. Tell him truly, I beg you, 
what you know of me, in order that he may know how 
much I have loved God and him. And come no more 
before my eyes, for henceforth I wish to employ my 
mind only in putting myself in a condition to receive 
the promises made to me by God before the foundation 
of the world." 

So saying, she embraced him with all the strength of 
her weak arms. M. D'Avannes, on whom compassion 
produced the same effect as pain and sickness in the 
lady, retired without being able to say a word, and threw 
himself upon a bed which was in the room, where he 
fainted several times. The lady then called her husband, 
and after many becoming demonstrations, she recqm- 
mended M. D'Avannes to him, assuring him that next 
%o himself that was the person she had loved best in the 

Third day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 269 

world. Having kissed her liusband she bade him fare- 
well, and then the holy sacrament of the altar was 
brousfht her after extreme unction, which she received 
with joy, and an entire assurance of her salvation. 
Finding at last that her sight was leaving her, and that 
her strength was failing, she began to repeat aloud her 
In maims, hearing which, M. D'Avannes sat up in the 
bed, and saw her render up with a gentle sigh her 
glorious soul to Him from whom it came. When he 
saw that she was dead, he threw himself upon the body, 
which he had never approached without trembling while 
she lived, and embraced it so that it was with difficulty 
he was forced away from it. The husband, who had 
never supposed he loved her so much, was surprised, and 
said, " It is too much, my lord." And thereupon they 

After they had long deplored, the one his wife, the 
other his mistress, M. D'Avannes recounted his love to 
the husband, and told him that until her death the de- 
ceased had never shown him any other signs than those 
of rigid reserve. This increased the husband's admi- 
ration for his departed wife, and still more his grief for 
her loss, and all his life afterwards he rendered service 
to M. D'Avannes. The latter, who was then but 
eighteen, returned to the court, and it was a long time 
before he would speak to any of the ladies there, or 
even see them ; and for more than two years he wore 

You see, ladies, what a difference there is between a 
chaste woman and a wanton. Their love, too, produced 
very different effects ; for the one died a glorious death, 
and the other lived but too long after the loss of her 
reputation and her honour. As much as the death of 

2 70 THE HEPTAMEROX OF THE {Navel 2b. 

the saint is precious before God, so is that of the sinner 
the reverse. 

''Truly, Saffredent," said Oisille, "anything finer 
than the story you have just narrated one could not wish 
to hear; and if the rest of the company knew the per- 
sons as I do, they would think it still finer, for I never 
saw a handsomer gentleman, or one of better deport- 
ment, than M. D'Avannes." 

" Must it not be owned," replied Saffredent, " that 
this was a chaste and good woman, since, in order to ap- 
pear more virtuous than she was in reality, and to hide 
the love which reason and nature willed that she should 
have for so perfect a gentleman, she let herself die for 
want of giving herself the pleasure she desired without 
owning it." 

"If she had felt that desire," said Parlamente, "she 
would not have lacked either place or opportunity to re- 
veal it ; but she had so much virtue that reason always 
controlled her desire." 

" You may paint her portrait as you please," said 
Hircan ; '' but I know that a greater devil always drives 
out a less, and that the pride of the ladies seeks rather 
carnal pleasure than the fear and love of God. They are 
perpetual enigmas, and they are such clever dissemblers 
that it is impossible to know what is in their hearts. If 
the world had not annexed infamy to the loss of their 
honour, it would be universally found that nature has 
made them with the same inclinations and the same 
affections as ourselves. Not daring to take the pleasure 
they long for, they have changed that vice into another 
which they think more decorous : I mean a cruelty quite 
as much pretended as real, by which they think to gain 
immortal renown; and through the petty vanity of re- 
sisting the vice of nature's law (if nature is vicious), they 

Thir.fday] QUEEM OF NAVARRE. 271 

resemble not only the brutes in cruelty and inhumanity, 
but even the devils, whose pride and craft they borrow." 

" It is a pity you have a good woman for your wife," 
said Nomerfide, "since, not content with despising the 
virtue of other women, you would fain have it believed 
that they are all vicious." 

" I am. very glad," replied Hircan, " to have a wife 
who gives no ground for scandal ; a thing which I would 
not do either ; but as for chastity of heart, I believe that 
she and I are children of Adam and Eve ; so, if we ex- 
amine ourselves well, we have no business to cover our 
nakedness with leaves, but rather to confess our weak- 

" I know well," said Parlamente, " that we all have 
need of the grace of God, being as we are by nature dis- 
posed to sin; but it must be owned, nevertheless, that 
our temptations are not similar to yours : and if we sin 
through pride, no one suffers for it, and neither our body 
nor our hands receive any stain. But your pleasure con- 
sists in dishonouring women, and your glory in killing 
men in war ; which are two things absolutely opposed 
to the law of God." 

"I admit what you say,' remarked Geburon ; "but 
when God says that whoever looks upon a wojnan to lust 
after her hath already committed adultery in his heart, 
and that whoever hateth his neighbour is a homicide, do 
you suppose he does not also mean to speak of women.''" 

" God, who knoweth the heart, will decide," said 
Longarine. " Meanwhile, it is always a good thing that 
men should have no power to accuse us, for God's good- 
ness is so great that He will not judge us without an ac- 
cuser. Not judge us, did I say } The frailty of our 
hearts is so well known to Him that He will give us 
credit for not having proceeded to overt acts." 


•' Pray let us drop this dispute," said Saffredent, 
"We are here to tell tales, not to preach sermons. I 
therefore give my voice to Ennasuite, and beg that she 
will not forget to make us laugh." 

" I shall not fail to do so," replied Ennasuite. " On 
my way hither I was told a story of two servants of a 
princess, which seemed to me so droll, and made me 
laugh so much, that I forgot the dismal tale I had pre- 
pared for to-day, and which I will postpone until to- 
morrow, my countenance being now too merry to make 
it pass well v/ith you." 


Of a secretary who had the impudence to solicit the favours of his 
host's wife, and had only shame for his pains. 

There was at Amboise a man who served a princess 
in the capacity of chamberlain, and who, being an oblig- 
ing, civil person, gladly entertained people who came to 
him, especially his own comrades. Not long ago one of 
his mistress's secretaries came to lodge with him, and 
remained ten or twelve days. This secretary was so 
ugly that he was more like a king of the cannibals than 
a Christian. Though his host treated him as a friend 
and a brother, yet he behaved to him like a man who 
had — I will not sav forgotten all decency, but who had 
never had a feeling of it in his heart : this was, to solicit 
in the way of lawless love his companion's wife, who not 
only had nothing engaging in her, but looked the very 
antidote of criminal pleasure, and as good and virtuous a 

nirdday.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 273 

woman as any in Amboise. On becoming aware of the 
man's bad intentions, the woman thought it better to ex- 
pose his turpitude than to suppress and conceal it by a 
prompt and decisive refusal ; she therefore pretended to 
listen to his suit. He, thinking that he had made a con- 
quest, pressed her incessantly, without considering that 
she was fifty, that she was not handsome, and that she 
had the reputation of a good woman who loved her hus- 
band. One day among others, when the husband was at 
home, and they were in a lower room, she pretended 
that the only thing requisite was to find a safe place for 
a tete-d-tete, where they might entertain each other as he 
wished. He proposed that they should go up to the 
garret. She rose at once, and begged him to go first, 
promising to follow hnn. He, laughing and grinning 
like an amorous monkey, went up stairs and posted him- 
self in the garret. Whilst he was waiting for what he 
had so hotly desired, he listened with all his ears for his 
fair one's footsteps ; but instead of them, he heard her 
voice crying out, " Wait a bit, master secretary, till I go 
and ask my husband if it is his pleasure that I should go 
to you." Imagine how the man looked in tears who had 
cut such an ugly figure when laughing. He hurried 
down stairs with tears in his eyes, and begged her for 
God's sake to say nothing, and not set her husband 
against him. " I am certain," she replied, " that you are 
too much his friend to wish to say anything which might 
not be repeated to him ; so I am going to speak to him 
about this matter." And so she did, in spite of all he 
could do to prevent her. He ran away, and was as much 
ashamed as the husband was glad to hear of the trick 
his wife had played him. So satisfied was the good man 
with his wife's virtue, that he gave himself no concern 
about his companion's villany, thinking him sufficiently 

274 ^^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE \Nffvd 27 

punished in having the shame he had intended for him 
recoil upon his own head. 

This tale teaches us, ladies, that honest folk ought 
never to attach themselves to those who have neither 
conscience, heart, not wit enough to know God, honour, 
and true love. 

"Though your tale be short," said Oisille, "it is as 
amusing as any I have heard, and to the honour of a 
worthy woman." 

" It is no great thing to boast of," said Simontault, 
" for an honest woman to refuse a man so ugly as you rep- 
resent this secretary to have been. Had he been hand- 
some and well-bred, her conduct would then have been 
some evidence of virtue. As I think I know the man, 
if it was my turn to tell a story, I think I could give you 
one about him not less droll than this." 

" Well, do so," said Ennasuite, 

" Courtiers, and inhabitants of great cities," he con- 
tinued, " have such a good opinion of their own capacity 
that they regard others as very small folk in comparison 
with themselves. Though craft and cunning are of all 
countries and all conditions, yet as those who think 
themselves the shrewdest do so only through vanity, they 
are only the more laughed at when they happen to make 
some mistake, as I shall instance to you in an affair of 
recent occurrence." 

Third day ] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 275 


A secretarj-, thinking to dupe a certain person, was himself duped. 

When King Francis I. was at Paris with his sister the 
Queen of Navarre, that princess had a secretary named 
Jean, who was not one of those who let anything worth 
having be lost for want of picking it up. There was 
neither president nor counsellor with whom he was not 
acquainted, merchant nor rich man whose house he did 
not frequent. At the same time there also arrived in 
Paris a merchant of Bayonne, named Bernard du Ha, 
who, having business in hand, and being in need of pro- 
tection, addressed himself to the lieutenant criminel, who 
was of his country. The Queen of Navarre's secretary 
used also to go frequently to see the same person, as a 
good servant of his master and mistress. One holiday, 
when he went to the house, he found neither the lieuten- 
ant nor his lady at home ; but there was Bernard du Ha, 
playing a viol or some other instrument for the ser- 
vant-women of the house, and teaching them to dance 
the branles of Gascony. When the secretary saw this, 
he wanted to make Bernard believe that he was doing 
wrong, and that if the lieutenant and his lady knew of it 
they would be very angry- Having talked to him in so 
alarming a manner that the other begged him not to tell 
what he had seen, he said, " What will you give me not 
to say a word about it V Bernard du Ha, who was not 
so frightened as he made believe, perceiving that the 
secretary wanted to dupe him, promised to give him a 
pasty of the best Basque ham he had ever eaten. The 


secretary was highly pleased, and begged that he might 
have the pasty on the following Sunday after dinner, 
which the other promised. 

Counting on this promise, the secretary went to see 
a lady of Paris, whom he passionately desired to marry, 
and said to her, " On Sunday, madam, I will come and 
sup with you, if you please ; but do not trouble yourself 
about anything but good bread and good wine, for I have 
so gulled a stupid fellow of Bayonne, that he will be at 
the cost of the rest : I will bring you the best Basque 
ham that ever was tasted in Paris." The lady, taking 
his word for it, invited two or three of her fair neigh- 
bours, and assured them she would treat them to some- 
thing they had never tasted before. Sunday bemg come, 
the secretary went in quest of the merchant, and found 
him at the Pont au Change. Saluting him very politely, 
he said, " To the devil with you for having given me such 
trouble to find you." 

'• Many a one has taken more trouble than you," re- 
plied Bernard du Ha, "and has not been so well rewarded 
in the end." So saying, he produced the pasty, which 
he had under his cloak, and which was big enough to set 
before a small army. The secretary was so pleased that, 
although he had an enormous ugly mouth, he squeezed 
it up so small that one would have thought he could not 
bite the ham. Hastily clutching the pasty, he turned 
his back upon the merchant without inviting him to par- 
take of the treat, and carried it to his mistress, who was 
very curious to know if the eatables of Guienne were as 
good as those of Paris. Supper-time being come, the 
company began to fall to at the soup with much vigour. 
" Leave those insipid things," said the secretary, " and 
let us taste this whet for wine." So saying, he opened 
the pasty, and set about cutting the ham, but it was so 

Third day.\ Q VEEN OF NA VA RRE. 277 

hard that he could not stick the knife into it. After 
trying again and again, he found that he was hoaxed, 
and that instead of a ham he had been given a wooden 
shoe, such as is worn in Gascony, with a stick thrust 
into the end of it, and the whole smeared with suet and 
powdered with rust of iron and spices, which gave out 
a very pleasant odour. The secretary was greatly 
ashamed both of having been duped by the person he 
thought to dupe, and having deluded his mistress, con- 
trary to his intentions ; to say nothing of his sore disap- 
pointment at having to content himself with soup for 
supper. The ladies, who were as vexed as himself, 
would have accused him as the author of the trick if they 
had not seen by his face that he was anything but pleased 
with its success. 

After making a light supper, the secretary retired in 
great dudgeon, and seeing that Bernard du Ha had not 
kept his word, he did not think himself bound by his 
own. Accordingly he went to the lieutenant criminel, 
intending co say everything bad he could of the merchant ; 
but the latter had been beforehand with him, and had 
already related the adventure to the lieutenant, who 
laughed in the secretary's face, and told him that he had 
learned to his cost what it was to play tricks on Gascons. 
And so all he got was the shame of having been the dupe 
of his own cunning. 

The same thing happens to many, who, wishing to 
deceive, find themselves deceived. Therefore it is best 
to do to others only as we would be done by. 

" I assure you," said Geburon, " that I have often 
witnessed such occurrences ; and those who pass for vil- 
lage boobies often overreach persons who think them- 
selves very clevef ; for there is no greater ninny than 


man who thinks himself cunning, nor any one wiser than 
he who knows that he is not so.' 

" He who knows his own incapacity, knows something, 
after all," said Parlamente. 

" For fear time should fail us, I give my voice to No- 
merfide," said Simontault. " I am sure she will not delay 
us long by her rhetoric." 

" You shall have from me the satisfaction you de- 
sire," said Nomerfide. " I am not surprised, ladies, if 
love inspires princes and well-educated persons with the 
art of extricating themselves from danger. In fact, they 
are brought up in intercourse with so many persons of 
knowledge, that it would be very surprising if they were 
ignorant of anything. But address in love appears with 
much greater lustre when those who display it are per- 
sons of less intelligence. I shall, then, relate to you a 
piece of cleverness exhibited by a priest through the 
prompting of love alone ; for he was so ignorant in all 
other things, that he could hardly say mass." 


A villager, whose wife intrigued with the parish priest, suffered 
himself to be easily deceived. 

There was at Carrelles, a village in the county of 
Maine, a rich husbandman, who in his old age married a 
handsome young wife, by whom he had no children ; 
but she consoled herself for this disappointment with 
several friends. When gentlemen and persons of mark 
failed her, she reverted to her last resource, which was the 
church, and chose for the accomplice of her sin him 

Third day\ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 279 

who could absolve her —that is to say, her priest, who 
paid frequent visits to his sheep. The dull old husband 
suspected nothing ; but as he was a rough and sturdy 
old fellow, she played her game as secretly as she could, 
beinij afraid that her husband would kill her if he came 
to know of it. 

One day, when the husband was gone into the fields, 
and his wife did not expect him back for some time, she 
sent for master parson to confess her ; but during the 
tmie they were making good cheer together the husband 
arrived so suddenly that the priest had not time to steal 
off. Intending, then, to hide, he went by the wife's di- 
rections up into a loft, and covered the trap-hole in the 
floor by which he had got in with a winnowing basket. 
Meanwhile, the wife, who was afraid her husband might 
suspect something, regaled him well at dinner, and plied 
him so well with wine, that the good man, having taken 
a little drop too much, and being fatigued with walking, 
fell asleep in a chair by the fireside. The priest, who 
found it dull work waiting in the loft, on ceasing to hear 
any noise in the room below, leaned over the trap-hole, 
and stretching out his neck as far as he could, saw that 
the good man was asleep. But while making his obser- 
vations he inadvertently leaned with so much weight on 
the winnowing basket, that down fell basket, priest and 
all, by the side of the good man, and woke him up with 
the noise. But the priest was on his legs before the 
other had opened his eyes, and said, " There's your win. 
nowing basket, gossip, and I'm much obliged to you;" 
and so saying, he walked off. The poor husbandman, 
quite bewildered, asked his wife what was the mat- 
ter } " It is your winnowing basket, my dear," she 
replied, " which the priest had borrowed and has now 


*' It is a very clumsy way of returning what one has 
borrowed," said the good man, grumbling, "fori thought 
the house was falhng." 

In this way the priest saved himself at the expense 
of the husbandman, who objected to nothing but the 
abrupt manner in which his reverence had returned his 
winnowing basket. The master he served, ladies, saved 
him for that time, in order to possess and torment him 

" Do not imagine that simple folk are more exempt 
from craft than we are," said Geburon ; " far from it. 
they Jiave a great deal more. Look at thieves, mur- 
derers, sorcerers, false coiners, and other people of that 
sort, whose wits are always at work ; they are all simple 

" I am not surprised that they have more craft than 
others," said Parlamente, " but I am surprised that, hav- 
ing their wits directed to so many other things, they can 
think of love. Is it not strange that so fine a passion 
can enter such vulgar hearts ? " 

" You know, madam, what Maitre Jean de Meun 
says : — 

Aussi Men sont amourettes. 
Soils bureau que sous brunettes. 

Besides, the love of which the tale speaks is not that 
which makes one wear harness. The poor, who have 
not wealth and honours like us, have in compensation 
more of the commodities of nature. Their viands are 
not so delicate as ours, but good appetite makes amends 
for that deficiency, and they fare better on coarse bread 
than we on dainties. Their beds are not so handsome 
or so well made as ours, but their sleep is sounder. 

Third day \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 281 

Their ladies are neither painted nor decked out like ours 
whom we idolize, but they receive pleasure from them 
much oftener than we, without fearing any other tongues 
than those of the beasts and birds that see them. In a 
word, they lack what we have, and have abundance of 
what we have not." 

" Pray let us have done with this peasant and his 
wife," said Nomerfide, " and finish the day before ves- 
pers. It is for Hircan to do so." 

" I will finish it, then, with a very dismal tale," said 
Hircan. " Though I do not willingly speak ill of ladies, 
knowing as I do that men are malicious enough to de- 
duce from the fault of one conclusions disparaging to all 
the rest, yet the singularity of the adventure overcomes 
my fear, and the exposure of ignorance will perhaps 
make others wiser." 


Frailty of a lady who, to conceal one evil, commits another still 


When Louis XII. was king, the legate at Avignon 
being then a lord of the house of Amboise, nephew to 
the legate of France, whose name was George, there 
was a lady in Languedoc who had an income of more 
than four thousand ducats. Her name I will not men- 
tion, for sake of her relations. She was still very young 
when her husband died, leaving her but one son ; and 
whether from regret for her husband, or love of her son, 
she resolved never to marry again. To avoid all occasion 
for doing so, she frequented only the society of the 
devout, thinking that opportunity makes sin, and not 


knowing that sin forges opportunity. She gave herself 
up wholly to the divine service, shunning all parties 
of pleasure, and everything worldly, insomuch that she 
made it a matter of conscience to be present at a wed- 
ding, or to hear the organ played in church. When her 
son was seven years old, she chose a man of holy life as 
his preceptor, to bring him up in piety and sanctity. But 
when he was between fourteen and fifteen, nature, who 
is a very mysterious schoolmaster, finding him well grown 
and idle, taught him a very different lesson from any he 
had learned from his preceptor ; for under that new in- 
struction he began to look upon and desire such things 
as seemed to him fair and among others a demoiselle 
who slept in his mother's room. No one had the least 
suspicion of this, for he was regarded as a child, and 
nothing was ever heard in the house but goodly dis- 

The young gallant having begun secretly to solicit 
this girl, she went and told her mistress. The mother 
loved her son so much, that she believed this to be a 
story told to get him into disgrace ; but the girl repeated 
her complaints so often that her mistress at last said she 
would find out the truth of the matter : if it was as the 
girl -stated, she would punish her son severely, but if not, 
the accuser should pay the penalty. In order, then, to 
come at the truth, she ordered the demoiselle to make an 
appointment with the young gentleman that he should 
come to her at midnight, to the bed in which she lay 
alone near the door in his mother's chamber. The demoi- 
selle obeyed her orders, and that night the mother lay 
down in the demoiselle's bed, resolving that if her son 
came thither she would chastise him in such a manner 
that he should never lie with a woman without remem- 
bering it. Such were her angry thoughts when her son 

Third day \ Q UEEJV OF NA VA RRE. 283 

actually entered the bed in which she lay ; but unable 
still to bring herself to believe that he had any unchaste 
intention, she waited tor some plamer evidence of his bad 
purpose before she would speak to him But she waited 
so long, and nature is so frail that her anger ended in 
an abominable pleasure, and she forgot that she was 
a mother. As water retained by force is more impetu 
ous when let loose, so was it with this unfortunate woman, 
who made her whole pndo consist in the violence she did 
her body When she began to descend the first step 
from iier chastity she found herself at once at the bottom, 
and became pregnant that night by him whom she wished 
to hinder from getting others with child. 

No sooner was the sin committed than she was seized 
with the most poignant remorse, and her repentance 
lasted as long as her life So keen was her anguish on 
rising from beside her son, who never discovered his mis- 
take, that entering a closet, and calling to mind the firm 
resolution she had formed and which she had so badly 
executed, she parsed the whole night alone in an agony 
of tears. But instead of humbling herself and owning 
that of ourselves alone, and without the aid of God, we 
can do nothing but sin, she thought by her own efforts 
and by her tears to repair the past and prevent future 
mischief, always imputing her sin to the occasion, and 
not to wickedness, for which there is no remedy but the 
grace of God. As if there was but one sort of sin which 
could bring damnation, she applied her whole mind to 
avoid that one ; but pride, which the sense of extreme 
sinfulness should destroy, was too strongly rooted in her 
heart, and grew in such a manner, that, to avoid one 
evil, she committed many others. 

Early next morning she sent for her son's governor, 
and said to him, " My son is coming to maturity, and it 

284 ^ATi? HEPTAMERON OF THE \N<rvel 30 

is time that he should be removed from the house. One 
of my relations, who is beyond the mountains with the 
Grand Master of Chaumont, will be glad to have him. 
Take him away, then, forthwith ; and to spare me the 
pain of parting, do not let him come to bid me farewell " 
Without more ado she gave him money for the jour 
ney, and he set out the next day with his pupil, who was 
very glad of it ; and having had what he wanted of his 
mistress, desired nothing better than to go to the wars 
The lady was long plunged in extreme grief, and but 
for the fear of God she could have wished that the un- 
happy fruit of her womb should perish/ To conceal her 
fault she pretended to be ill ; and having a bastard 
brother in whom she confided above all men, and to whom 
she had made large donations, she sent for him, informed 
him of the misfortune that had happened to her, but not 
of her son's share in it. and begged him to save her 
honour by his help, which he did Some days before 
she expected to be confined, he advised her to try change 
of air. and remove to his house, where she would be 
more likely to recover than at home She went thither 
with hardly any attendants, and found there a midwife, 
who had been sent for as if to attend her brother's wife- 
and who, without knowing the lying-in woman, delivered 
her by night of a fine little girl The gentleman put the 
infant out to nurse as his own ; and the lady, after a 
month's stay, returned home, where she lived more aus 
terely than ever. 

Her son being grown up, and Italy being at peace, 
he sent to beg his mother's permission to return to her. 
But as she was afraid of relapsing into the same crime, 
she put him off from time to time as well as she could ; 
but he pressed her so much, that at last she gave him 
leave to come home, having no plausible reason to allege 

Third Jay. ] QUEEN Ol>' NA VA RRE 285 

i'or persisting longer in her refusal. She sent him word, 
however, not to appear before her until he was married ; 
to choose a wife whom he loved passionately ; and not 
to let his choice be determined by wealth, for if he chose 
a comely wife that was enough. 

During this time the daughter, who had been left 
with the bastard brother, having grown up into a very 
handsome girl, her guardian thought of removmg her to 
some place where she should not be known. He con- 
sulted the mother on the subject, and it was her wish 
that she should be given to the Queen of Navarre, 
named Catherine. The girl was so handsome and well- 
bred at the age of thirteen, that the Queen of Navarre 
had a great regard for her, and wished much to marry 
her well ; but the girl being poor, many lovers presented 
themselves, but no husband. The unknown father, re- 
turning from Italy, visited the court of the Queen of 
Navarre, and no sooner saw his daughter than he fell in 
love with her. As he had his mother's permission to 
marry any woman he liked, he only asked was she of 
noble lineage, and being told that she was, he demanded 
her in marriage of the Queen of Navarre, who very 
gladly bestowed her upon him, knowing well that the 
cavalier was as wealthy as he was well-bred and hand- 

The marriage having been consummated, the gen- 
tleman wrote to his mother, saying she could no longer 
close her doors against him, s'nce he brought with him 
a wife as handsome and as perfect as she could wish for. 
His mother made inquiries as to the wife he had taken, 
and found that it was their own daughter, which caused 
her such excessive affliction, that she was near dying 
suddenly, seeing that the means she employed to put a 
stop to the course of her misfortune only served to 


make it greater. Finding no remedy for what had oc- 
curred, she went to the Legate of Avignon, confessed 
the enormity of her crime, and asked his advice. The 
legate, to satisfy her conscience, summoned several theo- 
logians, to whom he submitted the affair without naming 
the person concerned. The decision of this council of 
conscience was, that the lady was never to reveal the 
secret to her children, who had not sinned, inasmuch as 
they had known nothing ; but that, as for herself, she 
was to do penance all her life. So the poor lady re- 
turned home, where soon after arrived her sou and her 
daughter-in-law, who loved each other so much, that 
never was there a fonder couple, or one more like each 
other, she being his daughter, sister and wife ; and he 
her father, brother, and husband. Their love continued 
unabated to the last, whilst their profoundly penitent 
mother never saw them caress but she withdrew to 

* This novel is founded on a popular tradition, traces of which 
Ure found in several places in France. Millin, in his Antiquity 
Nationales, speaking of the collegial church of Ecouis, says : 
" There was found in the middle of the nave, in the crosr aisle, a 
white marble slab, on which was inscribed this epitaph : 

' Ci-git I'enfant, ci-git le pere, 
Ci-git la soeur, ci-git le frere, 
Ci-git la femme et le mari, 
Et ne sont que deux corps ici.' " 

[Here lies the child, here lies the father, here lies the sister, here 
lies the brother, here lie the wife and the husband, and there are 
but two bodies here.] 

" The tradition is, that a son of Madame d'Ecouis had by his 
mother, without knowing her or being recognized by her, a daughter 
named Cdcile. He afterwards married in Lorraine that same Cecile, 
she beine then with the Duchess of Bar, Thus Cdcile was her 
husband's daughter and sister. They were interred in the same 
grave at Ecouis, in 1512." Millin says that the same story is told 

Third day.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 287 

There, ladies, is what happens to those of your sex 
who think to vanquish, by their own strength, love and 
nature with all the faculties which God has given them. 

(but with modifications) in other churches of France ; for instance, 
in that of Alincourt, a village between Amiens and Abbeville, is 
seen the following epitaph : 

" Ci-git le fils, ci-git la mere, 
Ci-git la fille avec le pere, 
Ci-git la soeur, ci-git le frere, 
Ci-git la femme et le mari, 
Et ne sont que trois corps ici." 

[Here lies the son, here iies the mother, here lies the daughter 
with the father, here lies the sister, here lies the brother, here lie 
tiie wife and the husband, and there are only three bodies here.] 

Gaspard Meturas, who has inserted this epitaph in his Horttis 
Epitaphioruin Se/ectormn, 1648, says that it is found in a church of 
Claremont, m Auvergne, and adds : " The key to it consists in say- 
ing that the mother engendered her husband by lying with [en 
epotisant) her own father ; for it thence follows that he was her 
sen, her brother and her husband, even legitimately, the marriage 
having been effected with a righteous ignorance on both sides. 

Dunlop, in his History of Fiction, says that the thirty-fifth novel 
of the second part of Bandello " is the same story with the plot of 
the Mysterious Mother of Horace Walpole, and the thirtieth tale 
of the Queen of Navarre. The first part of this story had already 
been told in the twenty-third novel of Massuccio. The second 
part, which relates to the marriage only, occurs in Bandello and the 
Queen of Navarre. It is not likely, however, that the French or 
Italian novelists borrowed from one another. The tales of Ban- 
dello were first published in 1554, and as the Queen of Navarre 
died in 1549, it is improbable that she had an opportunity of seeing 
them. On the other hand, the work of the queen was not printed 
till 1558, nine years after her death, so it is not likely that any part 
of it was copied by Bandello, whose tales had been edited soma 
years before. It may therefore be presumed that some current 
traditions furnished both with the horrible incident they report. 
Indeed, Bandello declares, in the introduction to the tale, that it 
happened in Navarre, and was told to him by a lady of that country. 
In Luther's Colloquia Mensalia, under the article Auricular Confes- 


Better were it to own their weakness, avoid exposure to 
temptation, and say to God, like David, " Lord I suffer 
force : answer for me." 

" It is impossible to imagine a stranger case," said 
Oisille. " Methinks there is no man or woman who 
ought not to humble himself and fear God, seeing hov/ 
the hope of doing a good thing was so productive of 

" Be assured," said Parlamente, "that the first step 
man takes in self-confidence, removes him so far from 
the confidence he ought to have ni God." 

" Man is wise," said Geburon, " when he recognizes 
no greater enemy than himself, and distrusts his own 
will and counsel, however good and holy they may seem 
in his eves." 

" For no apparent prospect of good to come of it, 
however great," said Longarine, " should a woman expose 
herself to share the same bed with a man, however 

sion, it is said to have occurred at Erfurt, in Germany. It is also 
related in the eleventh volume of Byshop's Blossoms, and in 
L'Inceste Innocent, a novel by Desfontaines, published in 1638. 
Julio de Medrano, an old Spanish writer of the sixteenth century, 
says that he heard a similar story when he was in the Bourbonnais, 
where the inhabitants showed him the house in which the parties 
had lived, and repeated to him this epitaph, which was inscribed on 
their tomb " (that in four lines quoted above). " Mr. Walpole dis- 
claims having had any knowledge of the tale of the Queen of 
Navarre or Bandello when he wrote his drama. Its plot, he says, 
was suggested by a story he had heard when very young, of a lady 
who. under uncommon agonies of mind, waited on Archbishop 
Tillotson, revealed her crime, and besought his counsel in what 
manner she should act, as the fruit of her horrible artifice had lately 
been married to her son. neither party being aware of the relation 
that subsisted between them. The prelate charged her never to 
let her son or daughter know what had passed. For herself, he 
bade her almost despair." 

midday] QUEEN OF h'AVARKE. 289 

nearly related to her. Fire and tow are no safe neigh- 

" Assuredly," said Ennasuite, " this woman was a 
conceited fool, who thought herself such a saint that she 
could not sin, as some would have simple folks believe 
of them, which is a gross and pernicious error." 

" Is it possible," exclaimed Oisille, " that there are 
people so foolish as to believe anything of the sort .'''" 

" They do still more," said Longarine ; " they say 
that it is necessary to habituate oneself to chastity ; and 
to try their strength, they talk with the handsomest 
women and those they love best, and by kissing and 
touching them make trial of themselves as to whether 
or not they are in a condition of complete mortification 
of the flesh. When they find that this pleasure moves 
them, they fall back on solitude, fasting, and discipline ; 
and when they have so subdued the flesh that neither 
conversation nor kissing causes them any emotion, the 
fools try the temptation of lying together and embracing 
without any voluptuous desire. But, for one who resists, 
a thousand succumb. Thence have ensued so many 
mischiefs, that the Archbishop of Milan, where this re- 
ligious practice was introduced, was compelled to sepa 
rate the sexes, and put the women into the women's 
convent, and the men into that of the men " 

"Was there ever a more extravagant folly.?" said 
Geburon. "A man wants to make himself sinless, and 
seeks with avidity provocations to sin." 

"Some there are," said Saffredent, " who do quite 

the reverse; they shun temptation as much as possible, 

and yet concupiscence clings to them everywhere. The 

good Saint Jerome, after having soundly flogged and hid 

himself in the desert, confessed that he had been unable 

to overcome the fire of lust that burned in his marrow. 


21)0 THE HEPl. I Ml: RON OF THE {Acn'il y:x 

The sovereign remedy, then, is to commend oneself to 
God; for, unless He upholds us by His power, His 
virtue, and His goodness, vi^e not only fall, but take 
pleasure in falling." 

" You do not see what I do," said Hircan ; "which is. 
that whilst we were telhng our stories the monks who 
were behind that hedge did not hear the vesper-bell ; 
but no sooner did they hear us talk of God than away 
they went, and now they are ringing the second bell." 

"We shall do well to follow them," said Oisille. "and 
praise God for his grace in enabling us to pass this day 
so happily/' 

Upon this the whole company rose and went to the 
church, where they devoutly heard vespers At supper 
they talked over the conversation of the day^ and many 
things which had occurred in the time, each citing what 
he thought most worthy of recollection. After a cheer 
ful evening, they retired to their beds, m the hope of 
resuming next day a pastime which was so agreeable to 
them. Thus ended the third day. 

Fourth dav.\ QUEEX OF MA VARRE. 29 1 


Madame Oisille rose earlier than the rest, accord- 
ing to her good custom, and meditated on Holy Writ 
whilst awaiting the gradual assemblage of the company. 
The laziest excused themselves with the words of Scrip- 
ture, " I have a wife, and I cannot come so soon." Thus 
it was that when Hircan and his wife made their appear- 
ance, Madame Oisille had already begun her reading ; 
but she knew how to pick out the passages in which 
those are censured who neglect the hearing of the Word. 
She not only read the text, but she made them such 
good and holy exhortations that it was impossible for 
them to take offence at them. When these devotional 
exercises were ended, Parlamente said to her, " 1 was 
vexed when I came in at having been lazy, but I now 
congratulate myself on my laziness, since it has made 
you speak so well. I derive a double advantage from it 
— repose of body and satisfaction of mind." 

" For penance, then, let us go to mass," said Oisille, 
" to pray to our Lord for the will and the strength to do 
His commands ; and then let Him command what He 

As she said these words they entered the church, 
and after having heard mass with much devotion, they 
sat down to table, where Hircan did not fail to banter 
his wife for her laziness. After dinner every one retired 
to study his part, and at the appointed hour they all re- 
paired punctually to the usual rendezvous. Oisille asked 
Hircan who should begin the day. " If my wife had not 
been the first speaker yesterday," he said, " I would give 

292 l^HE HEPTAMEROA' OF THE [A'crve/ y. 

my voice for her ; for though I have always beheved 
that she loved me better than any man in the world, she 
has shown me to-day that she loves me a great deal 
better than God and his Word, since she has preferred 
my company to your reading. Since, then, I cannot give 
my voice to the most discreet of the women, I will give it 
to the most discreet of the men — I mean Geburon, whom 
I entreat not to spare the monks." 

"It is not necessary to make the entreaty," replied 
Geburon. " I hold them too well m mind to forget them. 
It is not long since I heard a story told by Monsieur de 
Saint Vincent, then the emperor's ambassador, which is 
too good to be lost." 


A monastery of cordeliers was burned and the monks in it, in per- 
petual memory of the cruelty of one of them who was in love 
with a lady. 

Within the dominions of the Emperor Maximilian of 
Austria there was a monastery of Cordeliers, held in 
high esteem, and near it was the house of a gentleman. 
This gentleman was so infatuated with these Cordeliers 
that there was nothing he did not give them, in order to 
have part in the benefit of their fastings and prayers. 
Among others, there was in this monastery a tall, hand- 
some young Cordelier, whom the gentleman had taken 
for his confessor, and who was as absolute in the house 
as the master himself. The Cordelier, struck by the ex- 
ceeding beauty and propriety of the gentleman's wife, 


Fourth day. QUEEiV OF NA VARRE, 293 

became so enamoured of her, that he could neither eat 
nor drink, and lost all natural reason. Resolved to exe- 
cute his design, he went all alone one day to the gentle- 
man's house. P'inding no one at home, the monk asked 
the lady whither her husband was gone. She replied 
that he was gone to one of his estates, where he was to 
remain two or three days ; but that if he wanted him, 
she would send an express to bring him back. The 
Cordelier told her that was unnecessary, and began to go 
to and fro about the house, as if he had some affair of 
consequence in his head. 

As soon as the monk had left the lady's room, she 
said to one of her women (there were but two of them), 
" Run after the father, and learn what he wants ; for I 
know by his looks that he is not pleased." The girl, 
finding him in the court-yard, asked him if he wanted 
anything } He said he did, and drawing her into a cor- 
ner, he plunged into her bosom a poniard he carried in 
his sleeve. He had hardly done the deed when one of 
the gentleman's men, who had gone to receive the rent 
of a farm, entered the yard on horseback. As soon as 
he had dismounted, he saluted the Cordelier, who em- 
braced him, and buried the poniard in his back, after 
which he closed the gates of the chateau. 

The lady, seeing that her servant did not return, and 
surprised at her remaining so long with the Cordelier, 
said to the other woman, " Go see why your companion 
does not come back." The servant went, and no sooner 
came in sight of the Cordelier than he called her aside, 
and served her as he had done the other. Knowing that 
he was then alone in the house, he went to the lady, and 
told her that he had long loved her, and that it was time 
she should obey him. She, who could never have sus- 
pected him of anything of the kind, replied, " I believe. 

294 ^'^^^- HEPTAMEKON OF THE [Novel 31. 

father, that if I were so unhappily inclined, 3011 would 
be the first to condemn me and cast a stone at me."' 

" Come out into the yard," said the monk, " and you 
will see what 1 have done." 

The poor woman did so, and seeing her two women 
and her man lying dead on the ground, was so horrified, 
that she remained motionless and speechless as a statue 
The villain, who did not want to have her for an hour 
only, did not think fit to offer her violence then, and 
said to her, " Have no fear, mademoiselle ; you are in 
the hands of that man in all the world who loves you 
most." So saying, he took off his robe, beneath which 
he had a smaller one, which he presented to the demoi- 
selle, threatening, if she did not put it on, that he would 
treat her as he had done the others. The demoiselle, 
more dead than alive, made a show of obeying him, as 
well to save her life as to gain time, in hopes that her 
husband would return. She took off her headdress, by 
the Cordelier's order, as slowly as she could ; and when 
she had done so, the monk, without regard to the beauty 
of her hair, cut it off in haste, made her strip to her shift, 
and put on the small robe, and then, resuming his own, 
set off with all the speed he could make along with the 
little Cordelier he had so long coveted. 

God, who has pity on the wronged innocent, was 
touched by the tears of this poor lady, and so ordered 
things that her husband, having despatched his business 
sooner than he expected, took that very road to return 
home by which the Cordelier was carrying off his wife. 
The monk, descrying the husband from a distance, said 
to the lady, " Here comes your husband. I know that if 
you look at him he will try to get you out of my hands ; 
so walk before me, and do not turn your head in his di- 
rection, for if you make him the least sign, I shall have 

Come out into the yard," said tlie moni<, "and you will see 
what I have done." 


Fourth ciay.\ QUEEN OF XAVARKE. 295 

plunged my poniard in your breast sooner than he will 
have delivered you." Presently the gentleman came up, 
and asked him whence he came ? " From your house, 
monsieur," replied the Cordelier. " I left mademoiselle 
quite well, and she is expecting you." The gentleman 
rode on without perceiving his wife ; but the valet who 
accompanied him, and who had always been in the habit 
of conversing with the Cordelier's companion, named 
Friar John, called to his mistress, thinking that she was 
that person. The poor woman, who durst not turn her 
head towards her husband, made no reply to the valet ; 
and the latter crossed the road, that he might see the 
face of this pretended Brother John. The poor lady, 
without saying anything, made a sign to him with her 
eyes, which were full of tears. The valet then rode up 
to his master, and said, '• In conscience, monsieur, Friar 
John IS very like mademoiselle, your wife. I had a look 
at him as I crossed the road. It is certainly not the 
usual Friar John ; at least, I can tell you, that if it is, he 
weeps abundantly, and that he gave me a very sorrowful 
glance of his eye." 

The gentleman told him he was dreaming, and made 
light of what he said. The valet, however, still persist- 
ing in it that there was something wrong, asked leave 
to ride back and see to it, and begged his master to wait 
for him. The gentleman let him go, and waited to see 
what would be the upshot. But the Cordelier, hearing 
the valet coming after him with shouts to Friar John, and 
making no doubt that the lady had been recognized, 
turned upon the valet with a great iron-bound staff, gave 
him such a blow on the side that he knocked him off his 
horse, and springing instantly upon him with the poniard, 
speedily dispatched him The gentleman, who from a 
distance had seen his valet fall, and supposed that this 


had happened by some accident, spurred towards hun 
at once to help him. As soon as he was within reach, 
the CordeHer struck him a blow of the same staff with 
which he had struck the valet, unhorsed and fell upon 
him ; but the gentleman, being very strong, threw his 
arms round the Cordelier, and hugged him so roughly, 
that he not only prevented his doing him any more mis- 
chief, but made him drop the poniard. The wife caught 
it up at once and gave it to her husband. At the same 
time she seized him bv his hood and held him with all 
her might, whilst her husband stabbed him several times 
with the poniard. The Cordelier, being unable to do 
anything else, begged for quarter, and confessed the 
crime he had committed. The gentleman granted him 
his life, and begged his wife to go for his people, and a 
cart to carry the prisoner away, which she did, throwing 
off her Cordelier's robes, and hurrying home in her shift 
and cropped hair. The gentleman's retainers all has- 
tened to help him to bring home the wolf he had cap- 
tured ; and the culprit was afterwards sent by the gentle- 
man to Flanders to be tried by the emperor's officers. 

He not only confessed the crime for which he was 
tried, but also avowed a fact, which was afterwards 
verified on the spot by special commissioners sent for 
that purpose, which was, that several other ladies and 
handsome girls had been taken to that convent in the 
same manner as this Cordelier had attempted to carry 
off the lady of whom we are speaking, and if he did not 
succeed, this was owing to nothing else than the goodness 
of God, who always takes upon Him the defence of those 
who trust in Him. The girls and the other stolen spoil 
found in the monastery were removed, and the monks 
were burned with the monastery, in perpetual memoriil 
of a crime so horrible. We see from this that there is 

Fourth day.} QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 297 

nothing more cruel than love when its principle is vice, 
as there is nothing more humane or more laudable when 
it dwells in a virtuous heart.* 

I am very sorry, ladies, that truth does not furnish us 
with so many tales to the advantage of the Cordeliers as 
contrariwise. I like this order, and should be very glad 
to know some story in which I could praise them, But 
we are so pledged to speak the truth, that I cannot con- 
ceal it after the rej^ort of persons so worthy of belief ; 
though, at the same time, I assure you that if the Cor- 
delieis of the present day did anything worthy of mem- 
ory which was to their honour, I would do justice to it 
with more alacrity than I have told the truth in the story 
I have just related to you. 

" In good faith, Geburon," said Oisille, " that sort of 
love might well be called cruelty." 

"I am surprised," said Simontault, "that he did not 
ravish the lady at once when he saw her in her shift, and 
in a place where he was master." 

" He was not picksome but gluttonous," said Saffre- 
dent. "As he intended to have his fill of her every day, 
he had no mind to amuse himself with nibbling at her." 

"That is not it," said Parlamente. "A ruffian is 
always timorous. The fear of being surprised and losing 
his prey made him carry off his lamb, as the wolf carries 
off a sheep, to devour it at his ease. ' 

* Notwithstanding what is said in the prologue to the fourth 
day respecting the recent origin of this tale, it is found m several 
writers of earlier date. It is identical, for instance, with a fabliau 
hv Rutebeuf entitled Fr'vre Denise (See Fabliaux de Legrand 
d'Aussy), iv. 383, and has some resemblance to No LX. of the 
Cent Nouvelles 'Nouvelles. The Queen of Navarre's tale has been 
copied by Henry Stephens, in his Apology for Herodotus, by 
L'Etoile, in his journal of the reign of Henry HI., anno 1577, and 
by Malespini, in his Ducento Novellc, No, LXXV. 

2g8 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [Novel t,2. 

" I cannot believe he loved her," said Dagoucin, " nor 
can I conceive that so exalted a passion as love should 
enter so cowardly and villanous a heart." 

" Be it as it may," said Oisille, " he was well punished 
for it. I pray God that all who do the like deeds may 
suffer the like penalties. But to whom do you give your 
voice .'' " 

" To you, madam," said Geburon, " for I know you 
will not fail to tell us a good tale." 

" If new things are good," replied Oisille, "I will tell 
you one which cannot be bad, since the event happened 
in my time, and I have it from an eye-witness. You are 
doubtless not ignorant that death being the end of all 
our woes, it may, consequently, be called the beginning 
of our felicity and our repose. Thus man's greatest 
misery is to wish for death and not be able to obtain it. 
The greatest ill which can befall a criminal is not to be 
put to death, but to be made to suffer so much that he 
longs for death, while his sufferings, though continual, 
are of such a nature as not to be capable of abridging 
his life. It was in this way that a gentleman treated 
his wife, as 3'ou shall hear." 


A. husband surprises his wife m flagrante delicto, and subjects her 
to a punishment more terrible than death itself. 

King Charles VIII. sent to Germany a gentleman 
named Bernage, Lord of Sivray, near Amboise. This 
gentleman, travelling day and night, arrived very late 
one evening at the house of a gentleman, where he 

Fourth day. I QUEEN OF NAVARRE. agg 

asked for a night's lodging, and obtained it, but with 
difficulty. The owner of the house, nevertheless, learn- 
ing in whose service he was, came to him and begged 
he would excuse the incivility of his servants, stating 
that certain of his wife's relations, who meant him mis- 
chief, obliged him to keep his doors thus closed. Ber- 
nage told him on what business he was travelling, and 
his host expressing his readiness to render the king his 
master all possible services, received his ambassador 
into his house, and lodged and treated him honourably. 
Supper-time being come, he showed him into a richly- 
tapestried hall, where, entering from behind the hang- 
ings, there appeared the most beautiful woman that ever 
was seen ; but her hair was cropped close, and she was 
dressed in black garments of German cut. After the 
gentleman had washed with Bernage, water was set be- 
fore this lady, who washed also, and took her seat at the 
end of the table without speaking to anyone, or anyone 
to her. Bernage often looked at her, and thought her 
one of the handsomest women he had ever seen, except 
that her face was very pale, and her air extremely sad. 
After she had eaten a little, she asked for drink, which 
was given to her by a domestic in a very singular vessel. 
This was a death's head, the holes of which were 
stopped with silver ; and out of this vessel she drank 
two or three times. After she had supped and washed, 
she made a reverence to the master of the house, and 
retired again behind the tapestry without speaking to 

Bernage was so surprised at this extraordinary spec- 
tacle that he became quite sombre and pensive. His 
host perceived this, and said to him, " You are surprised, 
I see, at what you have beheld at table. Now, the cour- 
teous demeanour I have marked in vou does not permit 

300 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [A'nz',/ 32. 

me to make a secret of the matter to you, but to explain 
it, in order that you may not suppose me capable of act- 
ing so cruelly without great reason. That lady whom 
you have seen is my wife, whom I loved more than man 
ever loved woman. I risked everything to marry her, 
and I brought her hither in spite of her relations. She, 
too, evinced so much love for me that I would have haz- 
arded a thousand lives to obtain her. We lived long in such 
concord and pleasure that I esteemed myself the happiest 
gentleman in Christendom ; but honour having obliged 
me to make a journe}', she forgot hers, and the love she 
had for me, and conceived a jDassion for a young gentle- 
man I had brought up in this house. I was near discov- 
ering the fact on my return home, but I loved her so 
ardently that I could not bring myself to doubt her- 
At last, however, experience opened my eyes, and I saw 
what I feared more than death. The love I had felt for 
her changed into fury and despair. Feigning one day 
to go into the country, I hid myself in the chamber 
which she at present occupies. Soon after my pre- 
tended departure, she retired to it, and sent for the 
young gentleman. I saw him enter the room and take 
liberties with her which should have been reserved for 
me alone. When I saw him about to enter the bed with 
her, I issued from my hiding-place, seized him in her 
arms, and slew him. But as my wife's crime seemed to 
me so great that it would not have been a sufficient 
punishment for it had I killed her as I had killed her 
gallant, I imposed upon her one which I believe is more 
insupportable than death ; which was, to shut her up in 
the chamber in which she used to enjoy her stolen pleas- 
ures. I have hung there in a press all the bones of hef 
gallant, as one hangs up something precious in a cabinet ; 
and that she may not forget them at her meals, I have 

Fourth (fay.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. jOJ, 

her served, as she sits opposite to me at table, with the 
skull of that ingrate instead of a cup, in order that 
she may see living- him whom she has made her 
mortal enemy b}- her crime, and dead, for her sake, him 
whose love she preferred to mine. In this way, when 
she dines and when she sups, she sees the two things 
which must afflict her most, namely, the living enemy 
and the dead friend ; and all this through her guilt. In 
other respects, I treat her as I do myself, except that 
her hair is cropped ; for the hair is an ornament no 
more appropriate to the adulteress than the veil to a 
harlot ; therefore her cropped head denotes that she has 
lost honour and chastity. If you please to take the 
trouble to see her, I will take you into her room." 

Bernage willingly accepted the offer, and going down 
stairs with his host, found the lady seated alone by an 
excellent fire in a very handsome chamber. The gentle- 
man drew back a curtain which concealed a great press, 
and there he saw all the bones of a man suspended. 
Bernage had a great wish to speak to the lady, but durst 
not for fear of the husband, until the latter, guessing his 
thoughts, said to him, " If you like to say anything to 
her, you will see how she expresses herself." 

" Your patience, madam," said Bernage, turning to 
her, " is equal to your torture ; I regard you as the most 
unhappy woman in the world." 

The lady, with eyes filled with tears, and with incom- 
parable grace and humility, replied, " I confess, sir, that 
my fault is so great, that all the ills which the master of 
this house, whom I am not worthy to call husband, could 
inflict upon me, are nothing in comparison to the grief 
I feci for having offended him." So saying she wept 

The gentleman took Bernage by the arm and led him 

302 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \_Nm)el ^i. 

away. Next morning he continued his journey upon 
the king's service ; but on taking leave of the gentleman 
he could not help saying to him, " The esteem I enter- 
tain for you, sir, and the courtesies you have shown me 
in your house, oblige me to tell you that, in my opinion, 
considering the great repentance of your poor wife, you 
ought to forgive her ; the more so as you are young and 
have no children. It would be a pity that a house like 
yours should fall, and that those who perhaps do not love 
you should become inheritors of your substance." 

The gentleman, who had resolved never to forgive 
his wife, pondered long over what Bernage had said to 
him, and at last, owning that he had spoken the truth, 
promised that if she persevered in her present humility, 
he would forgive her after some time. Bernage, on his 
return to the court, related the whole story to the king, 
who directed inquiries to be made into the matter, and 
found that it was all just as Bernage had reported. The 
description he gave of the lady's beauty so pleased the 
king that he sent his painter, Jean de Paris, to take her 
portrait exactly as she was, which he did with the hus- 
band's consent. After she had undergone a long pen- 
ance, and always with the same humility, the gentleman, 
who longed much for children, took pity on his wife, 
reinstated her, and had by her several fine children. 

If all those wives who have done the same sort of 
thing had to drink out of similar vessels, I am greatly 
afraid, ladies, that many a gilt cup would be turned into 
a death's head. God keep us from the like, for if his 
goodness does not restrain, there is not one of us but 
may do worse ; but if we trust in Him, He will guard 
those who own that they cannot guard themselves. 
Those who rely on their own strength run great risk of 

Fourth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 3 03 

being tempted, and of being constrained by experience 
to acknowledge their infirmity. I can assure you that 
there are many who have stumbled through pride in this 
way, whilst others, who were reputed less discreet, have 
been saved through their humility. The old proverb 
says truly, " What God keeps is well kept." 

" I look upon the punishment inflicted in this case 
as quite reasonable," said Parlamente ; " for as the of- 
fence was worse than death, so also ought the penalty 
to be." 

" I am not of your opinion," said Ennasuite. " I 
would rather see the bones of all my lovers hung up in 
my cabinet all my life long than die for them. There is 
no misdeed that cannot be repaired, but from death there 
is no return." 

" How can infamy be repaired ? " asked Longarine. 
" Do what she may, you know that a woman cannot re- 
trieve her honour after a crime of this nature." 

" I should like to know," returned Ennasuite, " if the 
Magdalen is not now in more honour than her sister who 
was a virgin .'' " 

" I admit," replied Longarine, " that we praise her 
for her love for Jesus Christ, and for her great peni- 
tence ; nevertheless, the name of sinner clings to her 

" Much I care what name men give me," said Enna- 
suite ; " only let me have God's pardon and my husband's 
too, there is no reason why I should wish to die." 

" If this lady loved her husband as she ought," said 
Dagoucin, " I am surprised she did not die of grief at 
looking upon the bones of him whom her crime had 
brought to death." 

" Why, Dagoucin," said Simontault, " have you yet 
to learn that women know neither love nor regret ?" 


" Yes," he replied, " for I have never ventured to prove 
their love for fear of finding it less than I should have 

" You live, then, on faith and hope," said Normerfide, 
" as the plover lives on wind. You are easily kept," 

" I content myself with the love I feel in my own 
heart," he replied, " and with the hope that there is the 
same in the hearts of ladies. But if I was quite sure 
that that love corresponded to my hope, I should feel a 
pleasure so extreme that I could not sustain it and live." 

" Keep yourself safe from the plague," said Geburon, 
" for as for the other malady, I warrant you against it. 
But let us see to whom Madame Oisille will give her 

" I give it," she said, " to Simontault, who I know 
will spare no one." 

" That is as much as to say that I am rather given to 
evil speaking," said he. " I shall, nevertheless, let you 
see that people who have been regarded in that same 
light have yet spoken the truth. I believe, ladies, you 
are not so simple as to put faith in everything a person 
tells you, however sanctified an air he may assume, un- 
less the proof is clear beyond doubt. Many an abuse is 
committed under the guise of a miracle. Therefore I 
intend to relate to you a story not less honourable to a 
religious prince than shameful to a wicked minister ol 
the church." 

Fourth iiay.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 



Incest of a priest, who got his sister with child under the cloak of 
sanctity, and how it was punished. 

The Count Charles d'Angouleme,* father of Francis 
I., and a prince of great piety, being one day at Coignac, 
some one told him that in a village named Cherves there 
was a maiden who lived with such austerity that it was 
a marvel, yet she was with child, and did not even make 
any secret of it, but assured everybody that she had never 
known man, and that she knew not how it had happened 
to her, unless it was the work of the Holy Ghost. The 
people readily gave credit to this delusion, and looked 
upon the girl as a second Virgin Mary, the more so as 
she had been known to be so well-behaved from her 
childhood, and never to have shown the least sign of a 
disposition to mundane vanities. She not only fasted at 
the seasons appointed by the church, but also made 
several voluntary fasts every week, and never stirred 
from the church as long as there was any service going 
on in it. The common people made so much account 
of this manner of life that everyone flocked to see her, 
as though she were a living miracle, and fortunate was 
he who could touch her gown. The priest of the parish 
was her brother, a man in years, of an austere life, and 
a reputed saint. So rigorously did he treat his sister, 
that he had her shut up in a house, whereat the people 
were greatly displeased, and the affair made so much 
noise that it came, as I have already said, to the ears of 

* This story is told of the father of Queen Margaret, and is 

doubtless founded on fact. 



Count Charles, who, seeing the delusion into which 
everybody had fallen, resolved to put an end to it. 

To this end, he sent a referendary and an almoner, 
both of them worthy men, to ascertain the truth. They 
went to the spot, inquired into the fact as carefully 
as possible, and applied to the priest, who was so vexed 
at the affair that he begged them to be present at 
the verification he hoped to make of it. Next morning 
the priest celebrated mass, his sister, who was very big, 
being present on her knees. After it was over, he took 
the Corpus Domini, and said to his sister, m presence of 
the whole congregation, " Wretch that thou art, here is 
He who suffered death for thee, in whose presence 1 ask 
thee if thou art a virgin as thou hast always assured me." 
She replied boldly and fearlessly that she was so. " How, 
then, is it possible that thou art pregnant, yet still a 
virgin?" "All I can say," she replied, "is, that it is 
the grace of the Holy Ghost, who does in me whatever 
he pleases ; but also I cannot deny the grace which God 
has done me in preserving me a virgin. Never have I 
had even a thought of marrying." 

Her brother then said to her, " I give thee here the 
precious body of Jesus Christ, which thou wilt take to 
thy damnation if thou dost not speak the truth ; whereof 
will be witnesses these gentlemen, who are here present 
on the part of my lord the count." 

The girl, who was about thirteen years of age, then 
made oath as follows : — " I take the body of our Lord 
here present to my condemnation before you, sirs, and 
you my brother, if ever man has touched me any more 
than you." So saying, she received the body of our 

The referendary and the almoner went away quite 
confounded, not being able to believe that anyone would 

Fourth day.] QUEEiV OF NA VARRE. 307 

lie after such an oath, and they made their report to the 
count, whom they tried to bring to entertain the same 
behef as themselves. But he, being a wise man, after 
much thought, made them repeat the very words of the 
oath ; and having well weighed them, he said, " She told 
you that nevennan touched her any more thcni her brother. 
I am persuaded that it was her brother who got her with 
child, and that she seeks to conceal his incest by prevar- 
ication. We, who believe that Jesus Christ is come, 
m.ust not expect another. Return then to the place and 
put the priest in prison ; I am sure he will confess the 

They executed their orders, but unwillingly, and not 
without remonstrating against the necessity of putting 
such a scandal upon a good man. The priest was no 
sooner committed to prison than he confessed his crime, 
and owned that he had instructed his sister to speak 
as she had done in order to conceal the intercourse 
between them, and this not only to bafifle inquiry by 
so slight a device, but also to secure themselves uni- 
versal esteem and veneration by this false statement. 
Being asked how he could carry his wickedness to such 
an excess as to make his sister swear upon our Lord's 
body, he replied that his audacity had not reached that 
length, and that he had used an ordinary wafer, which 
was neither consecrated nor blessed. 

All this having been reported to the Count d'An- 
gouleme, he sent the affair before the courts of justice. 
Execution was delayed until the sister was delivered of 
a fine boy. After her delivery the brother and sister 
were burnt, to the great astonishment of all the people, 
who had beheld a monster so horrible under such a 
garb of holiness, and so detestable a crime under the ap- 
pearances of a life so laudable and regenerate. 


The good Count d'Angouleme's faith, ladies, was 
proof against outward signs and miracles. He knew 
that we had but one Saviour, who, when he said consuni- 
maUim est, showed thereby that we are not to expect a 
successor for our salvation. 

" Truly," said Oisille, " that was a monstrous piece 
of effrontery covered with unparalleled hypocrisy. It 
is the height of impiety to cover so enormous a crime 
with the mantle of God and religion." 

"I have heard," said Hircan, "that those who com- 
mit acts of cruelty and tyranny under pretence of hav- 
ing the king's commission, are doubly punished, the 
reason being that they make the king's name a cover 
for their injustice. Likewise, it is seen that although 
hypocrites prosper for some time under the cloak of 
godliness, God no sooner unmasks them than they ap- 
pear such as they are ; and then their nakedness, their 
filth, and their infamy are the more horrible, the more 
august and sacred was the wrapper with which they con- 
cealed them." 

" There is nothing more agreeable," said Nomerfide, 
" than to speak frankly and as the heart feels." 

" It serves to make one fat," replied Longarine, " and 
I imagine you decide from your own case." 

" Let me tell you," returned Nomerfide, "I remark 
that fools live longer than the wise, unless some one kills 
them ; for which I know but one reason, namely, that 
fools do not dissemble their passions. If they are angry 
they strike ; if they are merry, they laugh ; but those 
who deem themselves wise hide their defects with so 
much care that their hearts are all poisoned with them." 

" I believe that is true," said Geburon ; " hypocrisy, 
whether as regards God, men, or nature, is the cause of 
all the evil that befalls us." 

Fourth day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 3 09 

" It would be a fine thing," said Parlamente, "if faith 
so filled our hearts with Him who is all virtue and all 
joy, that we should show them to everyone without dis- 

" That will be when there is no longer any flesh on 
our bones,"' observed Hircan. 

" Yet," remarked Oisille, " the spirit of God, which 
is mightier than death, can change our hearts without 
changing our bodies." 

"You speak, madam," said Saffredent, "of a gift 
which God hardly makes to men." 

" He does make it," rejoined Oisille, " to those who 
have faith. But as this is a matter above the com. pre- 
hension of flesh, let us see to whom Simontault gives his 

"To Nomerfide," he said. "As she has a merry 
heart, I do not think her words will be sad." 

" Since you have a mind to laugh," said Nomerfide, 
" I must serve you after your own way, and give you 
matter for laughter. I wish to show you that fear and 
ignorance are equally mischievous, and that one often 
sins only for want of knowing things. With this view, 
I will relate to you what happened to two poor Corde- 
liers of Niort, who, for not understanding the language 
of a butcher, had like to die of fright." 



Two over-inquisitive Cordeliers had a great fright, which had like 

to cost them their lives. 

lAvo Cordeliers arrived late one night at Grip, a vil- 
lage belonging to the Lord of Fors, situated between 
Niort and Furs, and took up their quarters with a 
butcher. As their bedroom was separated from their 
host's only by an ill-jointed boarded partition, they had 
a mind to listen to what passed between the husband 
and wife, and they clapped their ears to the partition 
close to the head of the host's bed. As the butcher had 
no suspicion of his guests, he talked to his wife about 
his business, and said, " My dear, I must be up betimes 
to-morrow, and see about our Cordeliers. One of them 
is very fat ; we will kill him and salt him forthwith, 
and we shall make a good thing of him." 

Though the butcher talked of his pigs, which he 
called Cordeliers, the two poor friars, hearing this, set 
it all down to their own account, and awaited daylight 
with great terror. One of them was very fat, the other 
very lean ; and the fat one set about confessing himself 
to his companion, alleging that a butcher, having lost 
the love and fear of God, would make no more of 
slaughtering them than an o.x or any other beast. As 
they were shut up in their chamber, from which there 
was no issue but through their host's, they gave them- 
selves up for dead men, and earnestly commended their 
souls to God. The young man, who was not so over- 
come by fear as the elder, said to him, that since they 

FoHrth day:\ Q VEEN OF NA VA RRS. 3 1 1 

could not get out at the door, they must try to escape 
through the window ; at the worst they could only be 
killed in the attempt, and death one way or the other 
was the same thing in the end. The fat friar consented 
to the expedient. The young one opened the window, 
and, as it was not very high, dropped lightly to the 
ground, and ran away as fast and as far as he could, 
without waiting for his companion, who was not so 
lucky, for, being very bulky, he fell so heavily that he 
hurt one leg severely, and was unable to rise from the 
ground. Deserted by his companion and unable to fol- 
low him, he looked about for some place where he might 
hide, and saw nothing but a pigsty, into which he 
dragged himself the best way he could. When he 
opened the door, two big porkers which were inside 
rushed out, and left the place free to the Cordelier, who 
shut himself in, hoping that he might hear people pass- 
ing by, to whom he would call and obtain help. 

As soon as daylight appeared, the butcher got ready 
his big knives, and told his wife to come and help him to 
kill the two pigs. Going to the sty, he opened the little 
door, and cried out, " Come, turn out here, my Cordelier. 
I'll have your chitterlings for my dinner to-day." The 
Cordelier, who could not stand on his leg, crawled out on 
his hands and knees, roaring for mercy. If he was in a 
great fright, the butcher and his wife were no less so. 
The first idea that came into their heads was that St. 
Francis was angry with them because they had called 
pigs Cordeliers, and under that notion they fell on their 
knees before the poor friar, begging pardon of St. Fran- 
cis and his order. On the one side was the Cordelier 
bawling for mercy to the butcher, on the other side the 
butcher making the same appeal to the Cordelier. At 
last the Cordelier, finding that the butcher had no inten- 


tion of hurting him, told him why he had hid himself in 
that place. Fear then gave place to laughter, except on 
the part of the poor friar, whose leg pained him so much 
that he had no inclination to laugh. The butcher, to 
console him in some degree, took him back to the house 
and had his hurt carefully attended to. As for his com- 
panion, who had forsaken him in distress, he ran all 
night, and arrived in the morning at the house of the 
Lord of Fors, where he made loud complaints of the 
butcher, who, he supposed, had by that time killed his 
companion, since the latter had not followed him. The 
Lord of Fors sent immediately to Grip to see how mat- 
ters stood, and his messengers brought back matter for 
laughter, which he failed not to communicate to his mis- 
tress, the Duchess d'Angouleme, mother of Francis L 

■ It is not good, ladies, to listen to secrets when one is 
not invited, and to have a curiosity to hear what others 

" Did not I tell you," exclaimed Simontault, " that 
Nomeriide would not make us cry, but laugh ? Every 
one of us, I think, has done so very heartily." 

" Whence comes it," said Oisille, " that one is always 
more disposed to laugh at a piece of nonsense than at a 
good thing .' " 

"Because," replied Hircan, "the nonsense is more 
agreeable to us, being more conformable to our own 
nature, which of itself is never wise. Thus everyone 
is fond of his like : fools love folly, and wise men wisdom. 
I am sure, however, that neither fools nor wise could 
help laughing at this story." 

" There are some," said Geburon, " who are so en- 
grossed with the love of wisdom that nothing you could 
say to them would make them laugh. Their joy and 

fourth day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 313 

their satisfaction are so moderate that no accident is 
capable of altering them." 

" Who are these persons ? " inquired Hircan. 

" The philosophers of past times," replied Geburon, 
" who hardly felt either mirth or sadness ; at least, they 
showed no manifestation of either, so possessed were 
they with the belief that there is virtue in vanquishing 

" I am as much convinced as they that it is good to 
vanquish a vicious passion," said Saffredent, " but to 
vanquish a natural passion, which has no evil ten- 
dency, seems to me a useless victory." 

"Nevertheless, that was regarded as a great virtue," 
remarked Geburon. 

" But then," returned Saffredent, " it is not said that 
all the ancients were sages ; and I would not swear that 
there was not in them more of the appearance of sense 
and virtue than of the reality." 

" You see, however," said Geburon, " that they con- 
demn everything that is bad, and even that Diogenes 
trampled on Plato's coverlet because he thought it too 
rich and curious ; and to show that he despised and 
wished to trample under foot Plato's vainglory and ava- 
rice, ' I trample,' said he, ' on the pride of Plato.' " 

" You do not tell all," replied Saffredent ; " you for- 
get that Plato at once retorted upon him, ' Thou tram- 
plest on it, indeed, but with still more pride.' In fact, 
it was only through a certain arrogance that Diogenes 
despised elegance." 

" In truth," said Parlamente, " it is impossible to over- 
come ourselves by ourselves ; nor can one think to do so 
without prodigious pride, the vice of all others the most 
to be feared, since it rears itself upon the ruins of all the 


" Did I not read to you this morning," said Oisille, 
"that those who believed themselves wiser than others, 
and who came by the light of reason to know a God, the 
creator of all things, for having been vain thereof, and 
not having attributed this glory to Him to whom it be- 
longed, and for having imagined that they had acquired 
this knowledge by their own labours, became more igno- 
rant and less reasonable — I will not say than other men,- 
but than the very brutes ? In fact, their minds having 
run astray, they ascribed to themselves what belongs to 
God alone, and manifested their errors by the disorders 
of their lives, forgetting their very sex, and abusing it, as 
St. Paul says in his Epistle to the Romans." 

" There is not one of us," said Parlamente, " but recog- 
nizes, on reading that epistle, that outward sins are the 
fruits of inward unbelief, the more dangerous to eradicate 
the more it is covered by virtue and miracles." 

" We men," said Hircan, " are nearer to salvation 
than women, for as they do not hide their fruits they 
easily know their roots. But you women, who dare not 
produce yours, and who do so many acts that are fair m 
appearance, hardly know the root of pride, that grows 
under so goodly a covering." 

" I own," said Longarine, " that if God's word does 
not show us by faith the leprosy of unbelief that is hid- 
den in our hearts, God does us a great grace when He 
suffers us to commit a visible fault, which manifests our 
hidden disposition. Blessed are they whom faith has so 
humbled that they have no need of outward acts to make 
them conscious of the weakness and corruption of their 

"Do let us consider, I beseech you," said Simontault, 
"what a course our conversation has taken. From an 
instance of extreme folly we have come to philosophy 

Fourth day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 315 

and theology. Let us leave these matters to those who 
are more competent to discuss them, and ask Nomerfide 
to whom she gives her voice." 

" To Hircan," she replied, " but on condition that he 
will be tender of the honour of the ladies." 

" The condition fits me very aptly," said Hircan, "for 
the story I have to tell you is the very one to fulfil it. 
You shall see from it, nevertheless, that the inclination 
of men and of women is naturally vicious, unless it be 
kept right by the goodness of Him to whom we ought to 
impute all the victories we achieve over ourselves. And 
to abate the airs you give yourselves when any story is 
told which does you honour, I will tell you one which is 
strictly true." 


How a sensible husband cured his wife of her passion for a Cordelier. 

At Pampelune there was a lady who was reputed fair 
and virtuous, and at the same time the most devout and 
chaste in the country. She loved her husband much, 
and was so obsequious to him that he had entire confi- 
dence in her. She was wholly occupied with God's ser- 
vice, and never missed a single sermon, and omitted 
nothing by which she could hope to persuade her hus- 
band and her children to be as devout as herself, who 
was but thirty years old, an age at which women com- 
monly resign the pretensions of beauties for those of 
new she-sages. 

On the first day of Lent this lady went to church to 
receive the ashes which are a memorial of death. A 
Cordelier, whose austerity of life had gained him the 


reputation of a saint, and who, in spite of his austerity 
and his macerations, was neither so meagre nor so pale 
but that he was one of the handsomest men in the world, 
was to preach the sermon. The lady listened to him 
with great devotion, and gazed no less intently on the 
preacher. Her ears and her eyes lost nothing that was 
presented to them, and both alike found wherewithal to 
be gratified. The preacher's words penetrated to her 
heart through her ears ; and the charms of his counte- 
nance, passing through her eyes, insinuated themselves so 
deeply into her mind that she felt as it were in an ecstasy. 
The sermon being ended, the Cordelier celebrated mass, 
at which the lady was present, and she took the ashes 
from his hand, which was as white and shapely as that 
of any lady. The devotee paid much more attention to 
the monk's hand than to the ashes he gave her, persuading 
herself that this spiritual love could not hurt her con- 
science, whatever pleasure she received from it. She 
failed not to go every day to the sermon, and to take her 
husband with her ; and both so highly admired the 
preacher, that at table and elsewhere they talked of 
nothing but him. 

This fire, for all its spirituality, at last became so 
carnal, that the heart of this poor lady, which was first 
kindled by it, consumed all the rest. Slow as she had 
been to feel the flame, she was equally prompt to take 
fire, and she felt the pleasure of her passion before she 
was aware that passion had possession of her. Love, 
which had rendered himself master of the lady, no longer 
encountered any resistance on her part ; but the mischief 
was that the physician who might have relieved her pain 
was not aware of her malady. Banishing, therefore, all 
fear, and the shame she ought to have felt in exposing 
her wild fantasy to so sober-minded a man, and her in- 

Fiurth day\ ' QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 3 1 7 

continence to one so saintly and virtuous, she resolved 
to acquaint him in writing of the love she cherished for 
him ; which she did as modestly as she could, and gave 
her letter to a little page, with instructions as to what 
he was to do, especially enjoining him to take good care 
that her husband did not see him go to the Cordelier's. 

The page, taking the shortest road, passed through 
a street where his master happened, by the merest chance, 
to be sitting in a shop. The gentleman, seeing him pass, 
stepped forward to see which way he was going ; and 
the page, perceiving this, hid himself with some trepi- 
dation. His master saw this, followed him, and seizing 
him by the arm, asked him whither he was going. His 
embarrassed and unmeaning replies, and his manifest 
fright, aroused the suspicions of the gentleman, who 
threatened to beat him if he did not tell the truth. " Oh, 
sir," said the little page, " if I tell you, my mistress will 
kill me." The gentleman, no longer doubting that his 
wife was making a bargain without him, encouraged the 
page, and assured him that nothing should befall him if 
he spoke the truth — on the contrary, he should be well 
rewarded ; but if he told a lie, he should be imprisoned 
for life. Thus urged by fear and hope, the page ac- 
quainted him with the real fact, and showed him the 
letter his mistress had writen to the preacher, whereat 
the husband was the more shocked, as he had been all 
his life assured of the fidelity of his wife, in whom he 
had never seen a fault. 

Being a wise man, however, he dissembled his anger, 
and further to try his wife, he answered her letter in the 
preacher's name, thanking her for her gracious inclina- 
tion, and assuring her that it was fully reciprocated. The 
page after being sworn by his master to manage the 
affair discreetly, carried this letter to his mistress, who 


was SO transported with joy that her husband perceived 
it by the change in her countenance ; for instead of 
her fastings in Lent having emaciated her, she looked 
handsomer and fresher than ever. It was now Mid-Lent, 
but the lady, without concerning herself about the Lord's 
Passion or the Holy Week, wrote as usual to the preacher, 
the theme being always her amorous rage. When he 
turned his eyes in her direction, or spoke of the love of 
God, she always imagined that he addressed himself 
covertly to her ; and, so far as her eyes could explain 
what was passing in her heart, she did not suffer them 
to be idle. 

The husband, who regularly replied to her in the name 
of the Cordelier, wrote to her after Easter, begging 
she would contrive to give him a meeting in private ; 
and she, impatiently longing for an opportunity to do so, 
advised her husband to go see some land they had near 
Pampelune. He said he would do so, and went and 
concealed himself in the house of one of his friends ; 
whereupon the lady wrote to the Cordelier that her 
husband was in the country, and that he might come 
and see her. 

The gentleman, wishing to prove his wife's heart 
thoroughly, went and begged the preacher to lend him 
his robe. The Cordelier, who was a good man, replied 
that his rule forbade him to do so, and that for no consid- 
eration would he lend his robe to go masking in. The 
gentleman assured him it was not for any idle diversion 
he wanted it, but for an important matter, and one neces- 
sary to his salvation ; whereupon the Cordelier, who 
knew him to be a worthy, pious man, lent him the robe. 
The gentleman then procured a false beard and a false 
nose, put cork in his shoes to make himself as tall as the 
monk, put on the robe, which covered the greater part of 

Fourth day.-\ QUEEN OF NA VARRR. 31^ 

his face, so that his eyes were barely seen, and in a 
word, dressed himself up so that he might easily be mis- 
taken for the preacher. Thus disguised, he stole by night 
into his wife's chamber, where she was expecting him 
in great devotion. The poor creature did not wait for 
him to come to her, but ran to embrace him like a 
woman out of her senses. Keeping his head down to 
avoid being recognized, he began to make the sign of the 
cross, pretending to shun her, and crying, " Temptation ! 
temptation ! " 

" Alas ! you are right, father," said she, " for there is 
no more violent temptation than that which proceeds 
from love. You have promised to afford me relief, and 
I pray you to have pity on me now that we have time and 

So saying, she made great efforts to embrace him, 
while he kept dodging her in all directions, still making 
great signs of the cross, and crying, " Temptation ! temp- 
tation ! " But when he found that she was pressing 
him too closely, he drew a stout stick from under his 
robe, and thrashed her so soundly that he put an end to 
the temptation. This done, he left the house without 
being known, and immediately returned his borrowed 
robe, assuring the owner that he had used it to great ad- 
vantage. Next day he returned home as if from a jour- 
ney, and found his wife in bed. Pretending not to know 
the nature of her malady, he asked her what ailed her. 
She replied that she was troubled with a kind of catarrh, 
and that she could neither move hand nor foot. The 
husband, who had a great mind to laugh, pretended to 
be very sorry, and by way of cheering her, said that he 
had invited the pious preacher to supper. " Oh, my 
dear!" said she, "don't think of inviting such people, 
for they bring ill-luck wherever they go." 

320 THE-HEPTAMERON OF THE \N(rcel 2>l- 

" Why, my love," replied the husband, " you know 
how much you have said to me in praise of this good 
father. For my part, I believe, if there is a holy man on 
earth, it is he," 

" They are all very well at church and in the pulpit," 
she rejoined, " but in private houses they are antichrists. 
Don't let me see him, my dear, I entreat you, for, ill as 1 
am, it would be the death of me." 

" Well, you shall not see him, since you do not choose 
to do so ; but I cannot help having him to supper." 

" Do as you please," said she ; " only, for mercy s 
sake, let me not set eyes on him, for I cannot endure 
such folk." 

After entertaining the Cordelier at supper, the hus- 
band said to him, " I look upon you, father, as a man so 
beloved by God, that I am sure he will grant any prayer 
of yours. I entreat you, then, to have pity on my poor 
wife. She has been possessed these eighteen days by an 
evil spirit, so that she wants to bite and scratch every- 
body, and neither cross nor holy water does she care for 
one bit ; but I believe, firmly, that if you put your hand 
on her the devil will go away. From my heart, I beseech 
you to do so." 

" All things are possible to him who believes, my 
son," replied the good father. " Are you not well as- 
sured that God never refuses his grace to those who ask 
for it with faith } " 

" I am assured of this, father." 

" Be assured also, my son, that He is able and willing, 
and that He is not less mighty than munificent. Let us 
strengthen ourselves in faith to resist this roaring lion, 
and snatch from him his prey, which God has made his 
own by the blood of his Son Jesus Christ." 

Thereupon the gentleman conducted the excellent 

Fourth Jay ?i QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 32 1 

man into the room where his wife was resting on a 
couch. Believing that it was he who had beaten her, 
she was roused to a prodigious degree of fury at the sight 
of him, but her husband's presence made her hang down 
her head and hold her tongue. " As long as I am pres- 
ent," said the husband to the good father, " the devil 
does not torment ; but as soon as I leave her, you will 
sprinkle her with holy water, and then you will see how 
violently the evil spirit works her." So saying, the hus- 
band left him alone with his wife, and stopped outside 
the door to see what would ensue. 

When she found herself alone with the Cordelier, she 
began to scream at him like a mad woman, "Villain ! 
cheat ! monster ! murderer ! " The Cordelier, believing 
in good faith that she was possessed, wanted to take 
hold of her head, in order to pray over it ; but she 
scratched and bit him so fiercely that he was obliged to 
stand further off, throwing plenty of holy water over her, 
and saying many good prayers. The husband, seeing it 
was time to put an end to the farce, entered the room 
again, and thanked the Cordelier for the pains he had 
taken. The moment he appeared there was end to the 
wife's termagant behaviour, and she meekly kissed the 
cross for fear of her husband. The pious Cordelier, who 
had seen her in such a fury, believed firmly that our 
Lord had expelled the devil at his prayer, and went away 
praising God for this miracle. The husband, seeing his 
wife so well cured of her folly, would never tell her what 
he had done, contenting himself with having brought her 
back to the right way by his prudence, and having put 
her into such a frame of mind that she mortally hated 
what she had so unwisely loved, and was filled with de- 
testation for her own infatuation. Thenceforth she was 
weaned from all superstition, and devoted herself to her 



222 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \.^^(n•(l Z^ 

husband and her family in a very different way from 
what she had done before. 

Here you may see, ladies, the good sense of the 
husband, and the weakness of one who was regarded as 
a woman of strict propriety. If you attend well to this 
example, I am persuaded that, instead of relying on your 
own strength, you will learn to turn to Him on whom 
your honour depends. 

" I am very glad," said Parlamente, " that you are 
become the ladies' preacher; you would be so with 
better right if you would address the same sermons to 
all those you hold discourse with." 

"Whenever you please to hear me," he replied, " I 
assure you I will speak the same language to you." 

" That is to say," observed Simontault, " that when 
you are not by he will talk to a different purpose." 

" He will do as he pleases," said Parlamente, " but, for 
my own satisfaction, I would have him always speak 
thus. The example he has adduced will at least be of 
service to those women who think that spiritual love is 
not dangerous ; but to me it seems that it is more so 
than any other." 

" I cannot think, however," remarked Oisille, " that 
one should scorn to love a man who is virtuous and fears 
God ; for, in my opinion, one cannot but be the better 
for it." 

" I pray you to believe, madam," rejoined Parlamente, 
" that nothing can be more simple-willed and easy to 
deceive than a woman who has never loved ; for love is 
a passion which takes possession of the heart before one 
is aware ot it. Besides, this passion is so pleasing that, 
provided one can wrap oneself up in virtue as in a cloak, 
it will be scarcely known before some mischief will come 
of it." 

fourth day.] QUEEN^ OF NAVARRE. 323 

" What mischief can come of loving a good man," 
said Oisille. 

"There are plenty, madam," replied Parlamente^ 
" who pass for good men as far as ladies are concerned ; 
but there are few who are so truly good before God that 
one may love them without any risk to honour or con- 
science. I do not believe that there is one such man 
living. Those who are of a different opinion, and trust 
in it, become its dupes. They begin this sort of tender 
intimacy with God, and often end it with the devil. 1 
have seen many a one who, under colour of talking 
about divine things, began an intimacy which at last 
they wished to break off, but could not, so fast were they 
held by the fine cloak with which it was covered. A 
vicious love perishes and has no long abode in a good 
heart ; but decorous love has bonds of silk so fine and 
delicate that one is caught in them before one perceives 

" According to your views, then," said Ennasuite, " no 
woman ought ever to love a man. Your law is too 
violent ; it will not last." 

" I know that," replied Parlamente, "but for all that, 
it is desirable that every woman should be content with 
her own husband, as I am with mine." 

Ennasuite, taking these words personally, changed 
colour, and said, " You ought to think everyone the 
same at heart as yourself, unless you set yourself up for 
being more perfect than the rest of your sex." 

"To avoid dispute," said Parlamente, "let us see to 
whom Hircan will give his voice." 

" I give it to Ennasuite," said he, " in order to make 
up matters between her and my wife." 

" Since it is my turn to speak," said Ennasuite, " I 
will spare neither man nor woman, so as to make both 

324 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE lAmel ;}£>. 

sides even. You find it hard to overcome yourselves 
and admit the probity and virtue of men. This obhges 

me to relate a story of the same nature as the preceding 



A President of Grenoble, becoming aware of his wife's irregular 
ities, took his measures so wisely that he revenged himselt 
without any public exposure of his dishonour. 

There was at Grenoble a president whose name I 
shall not mention. It is enough to say that he was not 
a Frenchman, that he had a very handsome wife, and 
that they lived very happily together. The husband, 
however, being old, the lady thought fit to love a young 
clerk named Nicolas. When the husband went in the 
morning to the Palace of Justice, the clerk used to step 
into the bedchamber and take his place. An old do- 
mestic of the president's, who had been in his service 
for thirty years, discovered this, and as a faithful ser- 
vant, could not help revealing it to his master. The 
president, who was a prudent man, would not believe 
the fact without inquiry, and told the servant that he 
wanted to create dissension between him and his wife ; 
adding, that if the fact was as he stated, he could easily 
give him ocular proof of it, and if he failed to do so, then 
he, the president, would believe that the servant had 
trumped up his lying tale to make mischief between 
husband and wife. The valet assured him that he 
should see what he had told him. 

One morning, when the president had gone to tlie 
palace, and the clerk had stolen into the bedroom as 

Fourth day :\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 325 

usual, the valet sent one of his fellow-servants to apprise 
the president, while he himself remained on the watch 
before the bedroom door, to see if Nicolas came out. 
The president, on seeing the messenger beckon to hin::, 
immediately quitted the court on pretence of sudden 
illness, and hurried home, where he found his old servant 
standing sentry at the bedroom door, and was assured 
by him that Nicolas was inside, having gone in not long 
before. "Remain at the door," said the president. 
" There is no other way to get in or out of the room, as 
thou knowest, except a little closet, of which I always 
keep the key." 

The president enters the room, and finds his wife and 
the clerk in bed together. Nicolas, who did not expect 
such a visit, threw himself in his shirt at his master's 
feet, and implored pardon, whilst the lady fell a crying. 
" Though what you have done," said the president to her, 
" is as bad as it can be, I do not choose to have the 
credit of my house blasted for you, and the daughters I 
have had by you made the sufferers. I command you, 
then, to cease your crying, and see what I am going to 
do. As for you, Nicolas," said he to the clerk, " hide 
yourself in my cabinet, and make no noise." 

Nicolas having done as he ordered, he opened the 
door, and calling in the old servant, said to him, " Didst 
thou not assure me thou wouldst show me my clerk in 
bed with my wife .'' I came hither on the strength of thy 
word, and thought to kill my wife. I have found nothing, 
though I have searched everywhere. Search thyself, 
under the beds and in all directions." 

The valet, having searched and found nothing, said 
to his master, " The devil must have flown away with 
him ; for I saw him go in, and he did not come out by 
the door ; however, I see he is not licre." 


" Thou art a very bad servant," said his master, " to 
want to put such division between my wife and me. 
Begone ; I discharge thee, and for the services thou hast 
rendered me, I will pay thee what I owe thee and more ; 
but get thee gone quickly, and beware how thou art 
found in this city after twenty-four hours are past." 

The president paid him his wages, and five or si.x 
years over ; and as he had reason to be satisfied with his 
fidelity, he resolved within himself to reward him still 
more. When the valet had gone away with tears in his 
eyes, the president called the clerk out of the cabinet, 
and after having given him and his wife such a lecture 
as they deserved, he forbade them both to give the least 
hint of the matter to anyone. His wife he ordered to 
dress more elegantly than she had been used to do, and 
to let herself be seen at all parties and entertainments. 
As to the clerk, he ordered him to make better cheer 
than before ; but that as soon as he should whisper in 
his ear the words " Go away," he should take good care 
not to remain three hours longer in the city. 

For a fortnight the president did nothing but feast 
his friends and neighbours, contrary to his previous 
custom, and after the repast he gave a ball to the ladies. 
One day, seeing that his wife did not dance, he ordered 
the clerk to dance with her. The clerk, thinking he had 
forgotten the past, danced gayly with the lady ; but when 
the ball was over, the president, feigning to have some 
order to give him about household matters, whispered in 
his ear, "Begone, and never come back." Sore loth was 
Nicolas to leave the lady-president, but very glad to get 
off sate and sound. After the president had fully im- 
pressed all his relations and friends, and all the inhab- 
itants of Grenoble, with the belief that he was very fond 
of his wife, he went one fine day in the month of May 


yowth daj \ QUEEN OF NA VARKE. 327 

into his garden to gather a salad. I do not know what 
herbs it was composed of ; but I know that his wife did 
not Hve twenty-four hours after eating of it, whereat he 
appeared greatly afflicted, and played the disconsolate 
widower so well that no one ever suspected him of having 
killed her. In this way he revenged himself and saved 
the honour of his house.* 

I do not pretend, ladies, to laud the president's con- 
science ; but my design is to exhibit the levity of a woman, 

* In a manuscript French dictionary of the Beauties and 
Curiosities of Dauphin^, there is an article which says that " in the 
Rue des Clercs, at Grenoble, was formerly to be seen over the hall 
door of the house of Nicholas Prunier de Saint Andre, president of 
the Parliament of Grenoble, a stone escutcheon, supported by an 
angel, and bearing a lion de gueule on a field or. These arms were 
those of the Carles family, which became extinct in the seventeenth 
century. The angel that supported the escutcheon held the fore- 
fino-er of one hand to his mouth in a mysterious manner, as if to en- 
join secrecy. Geoffroy Carles, sole president of the Parliament of 
Grenoble in 1505, put it up over that house, which belonged to him. 
He, indeed, had long dissembled before he found an opportunity to 
be revenged for the infidelity of his wife, by causing her to be 
drowned by the mule she rode at the passage of a torrent. He had 
purposely ordered that the mule should be left several days without 
drink. This occurrence, which appeared in print in several places, 
was made the subject of one of the novels of that time, in which, 
however, the names of the persons concerned are not given. 
Geoffroy was so learned in the Latin tongue, and in the humanities, 
that Queen Anne of Bretagne, wife of Louis XII., selected him to 
teach that tongue and the belles lettres to her daughter Rende, who 
was afterwards Duchess of Ferrara. The same Geoffroy Carles 
was made knight of arms and of laws by Louis XIL in 1509." This 
is probably the person meant by the Queen of Navarre, though she 
gives a different account of the manner in which he put this wife to 
death. The story, however, appears to be older than the times of 
Geoffroy Carles, since it is related of a president of Provence in the 
Cent Notivelles Nouvelles (No. 47), which were composed between 
the vears 1456 and 1461, and first printed in Paris in i486. 

328 THE HEPTAMERON OF T//E [Novel j<5 

and the great patience and prudence of a man. Do not 
be offended, ladies, I beseech you, with the truth, Mhich 
sometimes tells against you as well as against the men ; 
for women, too, have their vices as well as their virtues. 

"If all those who have intrigued with their valets 
were compelled to eat such salads," said Parlamente, " I 
know those who would not be so fond of their gardens 
as they are, but would pluck up all the herbs in them, 
to avoid those which save the honour of children at the 
expense of a wanton mother's life." 

Hircan, who guessed for whom she meant this, re- 
plied with great warmth, " A woman of honour should 
never suspect another of things she would not do her- 

" To know is not to suspect," rejoined Parlamente. 
" However, this poor woman paid the penalty which 
many deserve. Moreover, I think that the president, 
being bent on avenging himself, could not set about 
it with more prudence and discretion." 

" Nor with more malice," Longarine subjoined. 
" It was a cold-blooded and cruel vengeance, which 
plainly showed that he respected neither God nor his 

" What would you have him do, then," said Hircan, 
" to revenge the most intolerable outrage a wife can 
ever offer to her husband." 

" I would have had him kill her," she answered, " in 
the first transports of his indignation. The doctors say 
that such a sin is more pardonable, because a man is not 
master of such emotions ; and consequently, the sin he 
commits in that state may be forgiven." 

" Yes," said Geburon, " but his daughters and his 
descendants would have been disgraced for ever." 

" He ought not to have poisoned her," said Lon- 


Fourth day^ QUEEN OF NA VAKRE. 329 

garine, " for since his first great wrath was past, she 
might have lived with him like an honest woman, 
and nothing would ever have been said about the mat- 

" Do you suppose." said Saffredent, " that he was 
appeased, though he pretended to be so ? For my 
part, I'm persuaded that the day he mixed his salad 
his wrath was as hot as on the very first day. There 
are people whose first emotions never subside until 
they have accomplished the dictates of their pas- 

" It is well to ponder one's words," said Parlamente, 
"when one has to do with people so dangerous as you. 
What I said is to be understood of an anger so violent 
that it suddenly engrosses the senses, and hinders rea- 
son from acting." 

" I take it m that very sense," replied Saffredent, 
" and I say that of two men who commit a fault, he who 
is very amorous is more pardonable than the other who 
is not so ; for when one loves well, reason is not easily 
mistress. If we would speak truly, we must own there 
is not one of us but has some time or other experienced 
that furious madness, and yet hopes for grace. Let us 
say, then, that true love is a ladder by which to ascend 
to the perfect love which we owe to. God. No one can 
ascend to it but through the afflictions and calamities of 
this world, and through the love of his neighbour, to 
whom he ought to wish as much good as to himself. This 
is the true bond of perfection , for as St. John says, 
' How can you love God whom you do not see, unless 
you love your neighbour, whom you do see ? ' " 

" There is no fine text in Scripture which you may 
not warp to your own purposes," said Oisille. " Beware 
of doing like the spider, which extracts a poison from 


every good viand; for I warn you that it is dangerous 
to quote Scripture out of place, and without neces- 

" Do you mean to say, then," returned Saffredent, 
"that when we talk to your unbelieving sex, and call 
God to our aid, we take his name in vain ? If there is 
sin in this, it all lies at your door, since your unbelief con- 
strains us to use all the oaths we can think of ; and even 
so we cannot kindle your icy hearts." 

•'A plain proof," said Longarine, "that you all lie; 
for if you spoke the truth, it is so potent that it would 
persuade us. All that is to be feared is lest the daugh 
ters of Eve too easily believe in the serpent." 

" I see plamly how it is," said Saffredent ; " the 
women are invincible. So I give up the game to see on 
whom Ennasuite will call." 

"On Dagoucin," she said, "who, I think, will not be 
disposed to speak against the ladies." 

" Would to God," said he, " that they were as favour- 
able to me as I am disposed to speak so of them. To 
show you that I have endeavoured to do honour to the 
virtuous of their sex by the pains I have taken to 
learn their good actions, I will relate one of those to you- 
I will not say, ladies, that the patience of the gentleman 
of Pampelune and of the president of Grenoble was not 
great, but I maintain that their vindictiveness was no 
less so. In praising a virtuous man, we must not so 
much exalt a single virtue as to make it serve as a cloak 
and cover for so great a vice. A woman who has done 
a virtuous action for the love of virtue itself is truly 
laudable. An instance of this I will give you in the 
story I am about to tell you of a young married lady, 
whose good deed had for motive only the honour of 
God and the salvation of her husband." 

Fourth day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE 331 


Judicious proceedings of a wife to withdraw her husband from a 
low intrigue with which he was infatuated. 

A CERTAIN lady of the house of Loue was so good 
and virtuous that she was loved and esteemed by all 
her neighbours. Her husband with good reason con- 
fided to her all his affairs, which she managed so discreet- 
ly that in a short while their house became under her 
hands one of the richest and best furnished in Anjou 
and Touraine. She lived long with her husband, and 
had several fine children by him ; but as there is no en- 
during felicity here below, hers began to be crossed. 
Her husband, not feeling satisfied with a life of such 
perfect ease, had a mind to try if trouble would increase 
his enjoyment. His wife was no sooner asleep than he 
used to get up from beside her, and not return till day- 
light. The lady took this conduct so much to heart that 
falling into a profound melancholy, which yet she tried 
to conceal, she neglected the affairs of her house, her 
person, and her family, thinking she had lost the fruit 
of her labours in losing her husband's love, to preserve 
which there was no pains she would not willingly have 
sustained. But as she saw he was lost to her, she be- 
came so negligent of everything else that the conse- 
quences were soon seen in the mischief that ensued. 
On the one hand, the husband spent without order or 
measure ; on the other hand, the wife no longer attend- 
ing to the affairs of the house, they soon became so in- 
volved that the timber began to be felled, and the lands 
to be mortgaged. One of her relations, who knew her 
secret grief, remonstrated with her on the fault she com- 


mitted, and told her that if she did not regard the for- 
tunes of the family for her husband's sake, she ought at 
least to consider her jjoor children. This argument 
struck her ; she rallied her spirits, and resolved to try 
by every means to regain her husband's love. 

Next night, perceiving that he rose from beside her, 
she also got up, put on her night-wrapper, had her bed 
made, and sat down to read for hours until his return. 
When he entered the room, she went up and kissed him, 
and presented a basin and water to him to wash his 
hands. Her husband, astonished at this extraordinary 
behaviour, told her that he had only been to the privy, 
and that he had no need to wash. She replied, that 
although it was no great matter, still it was decent to 
wash one's hands when one came from so nasty a place, 
thereby wishing to make him know and hate his wicked 
way of life. As this did not produce any amendment in 
him, she continued the same course of proceeding for a 
year, but still without success. 

This being the case, one night, when she was wait- 
ing for her husband, who stayed away longer than usual, 
she took it into her head to go after him. She did so, and 
looking for him in chamber after chamber, she at last 
found him in a back lumber-room in bed with the ugliest 
and dirtiest servant wench about the house. To teach 
him to quit so handsome and so cleanly a wife for so 
ugly and frousy a servant, she took some straw and set 
it on fire in the middle of the room. But seeing that 
the smoke would as soon smother her husband as awake 
him, she pulled him by the arm, crying out " Fire ! fire ! " 
If the husband was ashamed and confounded at being 
found by so worthy a wife with such a swinish bedfel- 
low, it was not without great reason. " For more than a 
year, sir," said his wife, " have I been endeavouring by 


gentleness and patience to withdraw you from such a 
wicked life, and make you comprehend that, while waslv 
ing the outside, you ought to make the inside clean also ; 
but when I saw that all my efforts were useless, I be- 
thought me of employing the element which is to put an 
end to all things. If this does not correct you, sir, I 
know not if I shall be able another time to withdraw you 
from the danger as I have done now. I pray you to 
consider that there is no greater despair than that of 
slighted love, and that if I had not had God before my 
eyes, I could not have been patient so long." 

The husband, glad to be let off so cheaply, promised 
that for the future he would never give her cause for 
sorrow. The wife gladly believed him, and with his 
consent turned away the servant who offended her. 
They lived so happily afterwards that even past faults 
were for them a source of increased satisfaction, in con- 
sequence of the good that resulted from them. 

If God gives you such husbands, ladies, do not despair, 
I entreat you, before you have tried all means to reclaim 
them. There are four-and-twenty hours in the day, and 
there is not a moment in which a man may not change 
his mind. A wife ought to esteem herself happier in 
having regained her husband by her patience, than if 
fortune and her relations had given her one more fault- 

" There," said Oisille, " is an example for all married 
women to follow." 

" Follow it who will," said Parlamente ; " but for my 

* The subject of this novel is the same as that of the story of 
the Dame de Langaher, related by the Seigneur de Latour-Landry 
to his daughters, in the book he wrote for their instruction. (See 
Leroux de Lincy, Femmes Celdbre de rAncienne France, i. 350.) 


part it would be impossible for me to be so patient. 
Although in every condition in which one is placed, 
patience is a fine virtue, it seems to me, nevertheless, 
that in matrimonial matters it at last produces enmity. 
The reason is that, suffering from one's mate, one is 
constrained to keep aloof from the offender as much as 
possible. From this alienation springs contempt for the 
faithless one, and this contempt gradually diminishes 
love ; for one loves a thing only in proportion as one 
esteems it." 

"But it is to be feared," said Ennasuite, "that the 
impatient wife would meet with a furious husband, who, 
instead of patience, would cause her sorrow," 

" And what worse could a husband do than we have 
just heard } " said Parlamente. 

"What could he do.!*' rejoined Ennasuite. "Beat 
liis wife soundly, make her sleep on the little bed, and 
put her he loves into the best bed." * 

" I believe," said Parlamente, " it would be less painful 
to a right-minded woman to be beaten in a fit of passion 
than to be despised by a husband who was not worthy 
of her. After the rupture of wedded affection, the hus- 
band could do nothing which could be more painful to 
the wife. Accordingly, the tale states that the lady took 
pains to bring back the truant only for the sake of her 
children — a fact I can readily believe." 

" Do you think it a great proof of patience in a 
woman," said Nomerfide, " to kindle a fire on the floor 
of a room in which her husband is sleeping .-•" 

" Yes," said Longarine, " for when she saw the smoke 

* In France, formerly, it was customary to have in all well- 
furnished bedrooms two beds, a principal one and another much 
smaller for the confidential servant, who always slept in his master's 
room. See Novel XXXIX. 

Fourth ({ay] QUEEU OF NAVARRE. ^2$ 

she woke him up ; and that was perhaps the greatest fault 
she committed, for the ashes of such husbands would be 
good to make lye withal." 

" You are cruel, Longarine," said Oisille. " Yet that 
is not the way in which you lived with your husband." 

"No," replied Longarine, "for, thank God, he never 
gave me cause ; on the contrary, I must regret him as 
long as I live, instead of complaining of him." 

" And if he had treated you otherwise," said Nomer- 
fide, "what would you have done ? " 

" I loved him so much," replied Longarine, " that I 
believe I should have killed him and myself afterwards. 
After having thus avenged myself, I should have found 
more pleasure in dying than in living with a faithless 


"So far as I can see," observed Hircan, "you love 
your husbands only for your own sakes. If they commit 
the least fault on Saturday, they lose their whole week's 
labour. Do you want to be mistresses, then 1 For my 
part, I am willing to have it so, if other husbands will 
consent to it." 

"It is reasonable that the man should rule us," said 
Parlamente , " but it is not reasonable that he should 
forsake and ill use us." 

" God has so wisely ordained, both for the man and 
for the woman," said Oisille, " that I believe marriage* 
provided it be not abused, is one of the best and happiest 
conditions in life. I am persuaded that all present are 
as much impressed with that opinion as myself, or even 
more so, however they may affect to think otherwise. 
As the man esteems himself wiser than the woman, the 
fault will be more severely punished if it comes from 
him. But enough of this. Let us know on whom 
Dagoucin will call." 



" On Longarine," was the reply. 

" You give me great pleasure," said Longarine ; "for 
I have a story which is worthy to follow yours. Since 
we are upon the praise of virtuous patience in ladies, I 
will tell you of one whose conduct was still more laud- 
able than hers of whom you have just heard, and was 
the more commendable as she was a city lady, a class 
who are usually less trained to virtue than others." 

NOVEL xxxvin. 

Memorable charity of a lady of Tours with regard to her faithless 


There was at Tours a handsome and discreet bour- 
geoise, who, for her virtues, was not only loved but 
feared by her husband. However, as husbands are frail 
and often grow tired of always eating good bread, hers 
fell in love with one of his metayeres.* He used fre- 
quently to go from Tours to visit his m6tairie, always 
remained there two or three days, and always came back 
so jaded and out of sorts that his poor wife had trouble 
enough to set him up again. But no sooner was he him- 
self once more, than back he would go to his m(?tairie, 
where pleasure made him forget all his ailments. His 
wife, who loved his life and health above ail things, 
seeing him always come back in such a bad plight, went 

* Metayere. It was usual in France, before the Revolution, for 
the owner of a farm to supply the tenant with seed, &c., and to 
receive a proportion of the crop in lieu of rent. A farm managed 
on this principle was called a metavie, and the farmer a metayer 
feminine, metayert. 


Fourth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. ^^^t 

to the metaii'ie, where she found the young woman 
whom her husband loved, and said to her, not angrily, 
but in the gentlest manner possible, that she knew her 
husband often visited her, but was sorry she treated him 
so badly as invariably to send him home ill. The poor 
woman, constrained by respect for her mistress and by 
the force of truth, had not courage to deny the fact, 
and besought pardon. The Tourangeaude * desired to 
see the room and the bed in which her husband slept. 
The room struck her as so cold and dirty that she was 
struck with pity, and sent straightway for a good bed, 
fine blankets, sheets, and counterpane after her hus- 
band's taste. She had the room made clean and neat, 
and hung with tapestry, gave the woman a handsome 
service of plate, a pipe of good wine, sweetmeats, and 
confections, and begged her for the future not to send 
hei husband back to her in so broken-down a con- 

It was not long before the husband went to see the 
metayere as usual ; and great was his surprise to find 
the sorry room become so neat, but still greater was it 
when she gave him a silver cup to drink out of. He 
asked her where it came from, and the poor woman told 
him with tears that it was his wife, who, pitying his poor 
entertainment, had thus furnished the house, enjoining 
her to be careful of his health. Struck by the great 
goodness of his wife, who thus returned so much good 
for so much evil, the gentleman reproached himself for 
ingratitude as great as his wife's generosity. He gave 
his metayere money, begged her thenceforth to live like 
an honest woman, and went back to his wife. He con- 
fessed the whole truth to her, and told her that her gen- 
tleness and goodness had withdrawn him from a bad 

* Woman of Touraine. 

338 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \Nin<el 3«. 

course, from which it was impossible he should ever 
have escaped by any other means ; and forgetting the 
past, they lived thenceforth together in great peace and 

There are very few husbands, ladies, whom the wife 
does not win in the long run by patience and love, unless 
they are harder than the rocks which yet the weak and 
soft water pierces in time. 

" Why, this woman had neither heart, nor gall, nor 
liver ! " exclaimed Parlamente. 

" What would you have ? " said Longarine ; " she did 
as God commands, rendering good for evil." 

" I fancy,'' said Hircan, " that she was in love with 
some Cordelier, who ordered her as a penance to have 
her husband so well treated in the country, in order that 
while he was there she might have leisure to treat him- 
self well in town." 

" In this you plainly show the wickedness of your 
own heart," said Oisille, "judging so ill of a good deed. 
I believe, on the contrary, that she was so penetrated by 
the love of God that she cared for nothing but her hus- 
band's welfare." 

" It strikes me," said Simontault, " that he had more 

* This tale is related by the author of the Menagier de Paris, 
i. 237, ed. 1847, published by the Soci^td de Bibliophiles Frantjais. 
It is the 72d of Morlini, and is in the manuscript copy of the 
Varii Succedt of Orologi, mentioned by Borromo. The French 
and Italian tales agree in the most minute circumstances, even in 
the name of the place where the lady resided. Erasmus also re- 
lates this tale in one of his colloquies, entitled Uxor Me^ii/zavoMo? sive 
Conjugium ; and it occurs in Albion's England, a poem by William 
Warner, who was a celebrated writer in the reign of Queen Eliza- 
beth ; those stanzas which contain the incident have been extracted 
from that poetical epitome of English history, and published in 
Percy's Relics under the title of the Patient Countess. 

Fourth day. ] Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 339 

reason to return to his wife during the time he was in 
such bad case at the metairie than when he was made 
so comfortable there." 

" I see, " said Saffredent, " that you are not of the 
same way of thinking as a rich man of Paris, who, 
when he lay with his wife, could not lay aside the least 
of his mufflings without catching cold, but when he 
went to see the servant girl in the cellar, without cap or 
shoes, in the depth of winter, he never was a bit the 
worse for it. Yet his wife was very handsome, and the 
servant very ugly." 

" Have you not heard," said Geburon, " that God 
always helps madmen, lovers, and drunkards t Perhaps 
the Tourangeau was all three." 

" Do you mean thence to infer," said Parlamente 
" that God does nothing for the chaste, the wise, and the 
sober } " 

"Those who can help themselves," replied Geburon, 
'* have no need of aid. He who said that he came for 
the sick and not for the hale came by the law of hi>: 
mercy to aid our infirmities, and cancelled the decrees of 
his rigorous justice ; and he who thinks himself wise is 
a fool in the sight of God. But to end the sermon, whom 
do you call upon, Longarine } ** 

" On Saffredent," she said. 

" Then I will prove to you by an example," said he, 
"that God does not favour lovers. Though it has been 
already said, ladies, that vice is common to women and 
to men, yet a woman will invent a cunning artifice more 
promptly and more adroitly than a man. Here is an ex- 
ample of the fact." 



Secret for driving away the hobgoblin. 

A LORD of Grignaux, gentleman, of honour to Anne, 
Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France, returning 
home after an absence of more than two years, found his 
wife at another estate he had, not far from that in which 
he usually resided. He asked the reason of this, and 
was told that the house was haunted by a spirit, which 
made such a disturbance that no one could live in it. 
Monsieur de Grignaux, who was not a man to give credit 
to these fancies, replied that if it was the devil himself 
he should not fear him, and took his wife home with him 
to their usual abode. At night he had plenty of torches 
lighted, the better to see this spirit; but, after watching 
a long time without seeing or hearing anything, he at 
last fell asleep. No sooner had he done so than he was 
awakened by a sound box on the ears, after which he 
heard a voice crying, " Brenigne, Brenigne," which was 
the name of his deceased grandmother. He called to a 
woman who slept in the chamber to light a candle, for 
he had had all the torches put out, but she durst not 
rise. At the same time, Monsieur de Grignaux felt his 
bed-clothes pulled off, and heard a great noise of tables, 
trestles, and stools tumbled about the room with a din 
that lasted until day. But he never believed that it was 
a spirit ; he was not so frightened as vexed at losing 
his night's rest. 

On the following night, being resolved to catch Master 
Goblin, he had no sooner lain down than he pretended 

Fourth Jay. QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 34.1 

to snore with all his might, keeping his open hand ovei 
his face. While thus awaiting the arrival of the spirit, 
he heard something approach, and began to snore louder 
than ever. The spirit, which by this time had become 
familiar, gave him a great thump, whereupon Monsieur 
de Grignaux seized its hand, crying out, " Wife, I have 
caught the spirit." His wife rose instantly, lighted a 
candle, and behold you, it turned out that the spirit was 
the girl who slept in their chamber. She threw herself 
at their feet, begging to be forgiven, and promised to 
tell them the truth, which was, that the love she long 
entertained for a domestic had made her play this trick 
in order to drive the master and mistress out of the house, 
and that they two, who had charge of it, might make 
good cheer, which they failed not to do when they were 
alone. Monsieur de Grignaux, who was not a man to be 
trifled with, had them both beaten in a manner they never 
forgot, and then turned them both out of doors. In this 
way he got rid of the spirits who had haunted his house 
for two years. 

Love, ladies, works wonders. It makes women lose 
all fear, and torment men to arrive at their ends. Con- 
demning the wickedness of the servant, we must equally 
applaud the good sense of the master, who knew that the 
departed spirit does not return. 

" Decidedly," said Geburon, " the valet and the 
wench were not then favoured by love. I agree with 
you, however, that the master had need of much good 

" The girl, however," said Ennasuite, " lived for a 
long while to her heart's content by means of her strata- 

" That is a very wretched content," said Oisille, 


" which begins with sin and ends with shame and pun- 

"That is true," rejoined Ennasuite ; "but there are 
many persons who suffer whilst living righteously, and 
who have not the wit to give themselves in the course of 
their lives as much pleasure as the pan- in question." 

" I firmly believe," replied Oisille, " that there is no 
perfect pleasure unless the conscience is at rest." 

"The Italian maintains,"' said Simontault, "that the 
greater the sin the greater the pleasure." 

" One must be a perfect devil to entertain such a 
thought," said Oisille ; " but let us drop the subject, 
and see to whom Saffredent will give his voice." 

" No one remains to speak but Parlamente," said 
Saffredent; "but though there were a hundred others, 
she should have my voice, as a person from whom we 
are sure to learn something." 

" Since I am to finish the day," said Parlamente, 
"and promised yesterday to tell you why Rolandine's 
father had the castle built in which he kept her so long 
a prisoner I will now fulfil my word." 


The Count de Jossebelin has his brother-in-law put to death, not 
knowing the relationship. 

The Count de Jossebelin, father of Rolandine, had 
several sisters. Some made wealthy marriages, others 
became nuns, and one, who was incomparably hand- 
somer than the rest, remained in his house unmarried. 
The brother was so fond of this sister that he preferred 

Fourth day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE 343 

neither his wife nor his children to her ; and though she 
had many eHgible offers of marriage, they were all re- 
jected, from his fear of losing her, and being obliged to 
pay down money. Consequently she remained a great 
part of her life unmarried, living with strict propriety 
in her brother's house. There was a young and hand 
some gentleman who had been reared in the house, and 
who as he grew in age grew also in personal and mental 
endowments, to that degree that he completely governed 
his master. When the latter had any message to send 
his sister, he always made this young gentleman the 
bearer of it ; and as this took place morning and even- 
ing, it led to such a familiarity as presently ripened into 
love. The young gentleman durst not for his life offend 
his master ; the demoiselle was not without scruples of 
honour ; and so they had no other fruition of their love 
than in conversing together, until the brother had said 
again and again to the lover that he wished he was of as 
good family as his sister, for he had never seen a man he 
would rather have for a brother-in-law. This was re- 
peated so often that after consulting together, the lovers 
came to the conclusion that if they married secretly they 
should easily be forgiven. Love, which makes people 
readily believe what they desire, persuaded them that no 
bad consequences would ensue for them ; and with that 
hope they married, unknown to anyone except a priest 
and some women. 

After having for some years enjoyed the pleasure 
which two handsome persons who passionately love each 
other can reciprocally bestow, fortune, jealous of their 
happiness, roused up an enemy against them, who, ob- 
serving the demoiselle, became aware of her secret de- 
lights, being yet ignorant of her marriage. This person 
went and told the brother that the gentleman in whom 

344 ^^-^ HEPTAMEKON OF THE {Nmiel 40 

he had such confidence visited his sister too often, and 
at hours when a man ought never to enter her chamber. 
At first he could not beheve this, such was his trust in 
his sister and the gentleman. But, as he loved his 
house's honour, he caused them to be observed so close- 
ly, and set so many people on the watch, that the poor 
innocent couple were at last surprised. 

One evening, word being brought the brother that 
the gentleman was with his sister, he went straightway 
to her chamber, and found them in bed together. 
Choking with rage and unable to speak, he drew his 
sword, and ran after the gentleman to kill him ; but the 
latter, being very nimble, evaded him ; and, as he could 
not escape by the door, he jumped out of a window that 
looked upon the garden. The poor lady threw herself 
in her shift on her knees before her brother, crying, 
" Spare my husband's life, monsieur, for I hav'e married 
him, and if he has offended you, let me alone suffer the 
punishment, for he has done nothing but at my solicita- 

"Were he a thousand times your husband," replied 
the incensed brother, " I will punish him as a domestic 
who has deceived me." So saying, he went to the win- 
dow, and called out to his people to kill him, which was 
forthwith done before his eyes and those of his sister. 

At this sad spectacle, which her prayers and suppli- 
cations had been unable to prevent, the poor wife was 
like one distracted. " Brother," she said, " I have neither 
father nor mother, and I am of an age to marry as I 
choose. I chose a man whom you told me repeatedly 
that you would have liked me to marry. And because I 
did so, as by law I had a right to do without your inter- 
ference, you put to death the man you loved best in the 
world. Since my prayers have not availed to save him, 


Fourth day :\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 345 

I conjure you by all the affection you ever had for me to 
make me the companion of his death, as I have been of 
all his fortunes. Thereby you will glut yowr cruel and 
unjust wrath, and give repose to the body and soul of a 
wife who will not and cannot live without her husband." 

Though the brother was beside himself with passion, 
he had so much pity on his sister that, without saying 
yes or no, he left her and withdrew. After having care- 
fully investigated the matter, and ascertained that the 
murdered man had been wedded to his sister, he would 
have been glad if the deed had not been done. Being 
afraid, however, that his sister, to revenge it, would ap- 
peal to justice, he had a castle built in the midst of a 
forest, and there he confined her, with orders that no 
one should be admitted to speak to her. 

Some time after, to satisfy his conscience, he tried to 
conciliate her, and caused her to be sounded upon the 
subject of marriage ; but she sent him word that he had 
given her such a bad dinner she had no mind to be 
regaled with the same dish for supper ; that she hoped to 
live in such wise that he should never have the pleasure 
of killing a second husband of hers ; and that after 
deahng so villanously with the man he loved best in the 
world, she could not imagine that he would pardon an- 
other. She added, that notwithstanding her weakness 
and impotence, she trusted that He who was a just judge 
and would not suffer wrong to go unpunished, would do 
her the grace to avenge her, and let her finish her days 
in her hermitage in meditating on the love and char- 
ity of her God. And this she did. She lived in that 
place with so much patience and austerity that after 
her death every one visited her remains as those of a 
saint. From the moment of her death her brother's 
house began to fall into decay, so that of six sons not 

2^6 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \N<rcd i,o. 

one remained to continue it. They all died miser 
ably ; and in the end Rolandine, his daughter, remained 
sole heiress of all, as you have been told in another tale, 
and succeeded to her aunt's prison.* 

I wish, ladies, that you may profit by this example, 
and that none of you may think of marrying for your 
own pleasure, without the consent of those to whom you 
owe obedience. Marriage is an affair of such long dura- 
tion that one cannot engage in it with too much delibera- 
tion ; and deliberate ever so well and so sagely, yet one 
is sure to find in it at least as much pain as pleasure. 

"Were there no God or law to teach maidens discre- 
tion," said Oisille, "the example might suffice to make 
them have more respect for their relations than to marry 
without their knowledge." 

" Nevertheless, madam," replied Nomerfide, " when 
one has one good day in the year, one is not wholly 
unfortunate. She had the pleasure of seeing and con- 
versing for a long time with him whom she loved better 
than herself. Besides, she enjoyed it through marriage 
without scruple of conscience. I regard this satisfac- 
tion as so great that, to my thinking, it fairly counter- 
balanced the grief that subsequently befel her." 

" You mean to say, then," said Saffredent, " that the 

* Josselin, a little town of Le Morbihan, was included in the 
domains of the Viscount of Rohan, whose name the Queen of 
Navarre disguises by calling him Count of Jossebelin. Jean TI., 
Viscount of Rohan, had one uterine sister, named Catherine, and 
several half-sisters. Catherine de Rohan, who is said by the 
authors of Histoire Ginealogique de la Maison de France, iv. 57, 
to have died unmarried, is the heroine of this novel, and the 
murder oi the Count of Keradreu.x, for which the Viscount of 
Rohan was imprisoned, is no doubt the one of which the Queen of 
Navarre speaks. 

Fourth day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 347 

pleasure of bedding with a husband is more to a woman 
than the pain of seeing him killed before her eyes." 

" No such thing," said Nomerfide ; " were I to say so, 
I should speak contrary to my own experience of women. 
What I mean is, that an unaccustomed pleasure like 
that of marrying the man one loves best must be greater 
than the pain of losing him by death, which is an or- 
dinary occurrence." 

" That may be true of natural death," said Geburon, 
" but the one in question was too cruel. I think it very 
strange that this lord, who was neither her father nor her 
husband, but only her brother, should have dared to 
commit such a cruel deed, seeing even that his sister was 
of an age at which the law allows girls to marry as they 
think fit." 

" For my part, I see nothing strange in that," said 
Hircan. " He did not kill his sister, whom he loved so 
fondly, and over whom he had no jurisdiction ; but he 
dealt as he deserved with the young gentleman, whom 
he had brought up as his son, and loved as his brother. 
He had advanced and enriched him in his service, and 
then, by way of gratitude, the young gentleman married 
his sister, which he ought not to have done." 

"Again," resumed Nomerfide, "it was no common 
and ordinary pleasure for a lady of such high family to 
marry a gentleman domestic. Thus, if the death was a 
surprise, the pleasure also was novel, and the greater as 
it was contrary to the opinion of all the wise, and was 
helped by the satisfaction of a heart filled with love, and 
by repose of soul, seeing that God was not offended. As 
to the death you call cruel, it seems to me that death 
being necessary, the quicker it is the better ; for do we 
not know that death is a passage which must inevitably 
be crossed .' I regard as fortunate those who do not linger 


long in the outskirts of death, and who by good luck, 
which alone deserves that name, pass at one bound into 
everlasting felicity." 

" What do you call the outskirts of death ? " said 

" Sorrows, afflictions, long maladies," replied No- 
merfide. " Those who have to sustain such extreme 
pangs of body or of mind that they come to despise death 
and complain of its too tardy approach are in the out- 
skirts of death, and they will tell you how the inns are 
named in which they have sighed more than reposed. 
The lady in question could not help losing her husband 
by death ; but her brother's anger saved her from the 
pain of seeing him for a long time an invalid or ill- 
tempered, and she could deem herself happy in convert- 
mg to the service of God the satisfaction and joy she 
had with her husband." 

" Do you count for nothing the shame she underwent 
and the tedium of her prison ? " said Longarine. 

"lam persuaded," replied Nomerfide, "that when 
one loves well, and with a love founded on God's com- 
mand, one makes no account of shame, except so far as 
it lessens love ; for the glory of loving well knows no 
shame. As for her prison, as her heart was wholly 
devoted to God and her husband, I imagine she hardly 
felt the loss of her liberty ; for where one cannot see 
what one loves, the greatest blessing one can have is to 
think of it incessantly. A prison is never narrow when 
the imagination can range in it as it will." 

" Nothing can be truer than what Nomerfide alleges," 
said Simontault; "but the madman who effected this 
separation ought to have deemed himself a very wretch, 
offending as he did God, love, and honour." 

" I am astonished," said Geburon, " thai there is so 

Fourth day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 34^ 

much diversity in the nature of women's love ; and I see 
plainly that those who have the most love have the most 
virtue, but those who have the least love are the virtuous 
in false seeming." 

" It is true," said Parlamente, " that a heart that is 
virtuous towards God and man loves with more passion 
than a vicious heart, because the former is not afraid 
that the real nature of its sentiments should be apparent.'' 

" I have always understood," said Simontault, " that 
men are not blameable for paying court to women ; for 
God has put into the heart of man love and the boldness 
to sue, and into that of woman fear and the chastity to 
refuse. If a man has been punished for having used 
the power implanted in him, he has been treated with 

" But was it not a monstrous inconsistency in this 
brother," said Longarine, " to have persisted so long in 
praising this young gentleman to his sister .'' It seems 
to me that it would be a great folly, not to say cruelty, 
in a man who had charge of a fountain to praise its water 
to one who gazed on it, parched with thirst, and then to 
kill him for offering to drink of it." 

" The fire of his encomiums on the young man," said 
Parlamente, " unquestionably kindled the fire of love in 
the lady's heart, and he was wrong to put out with his 
sword a fire he himself had lighted by his sweet words." 

" I am surprised," said Saffredent, " that it should be 
taken amiss that a simple gentleman, by dint of court- 
ship alone, and not through any false pretences, should 
come to marry a lady of so illustrious a house, since the 
philosophers maintain that the least of men is vvorthiei 
than the greatest and most virtuous of women." 

" The reason is," said Dagoucin, " that in order to 
preserve the public tranquillity, regard is only had to the 


degree of the families, the age of the persons, and the 
laws, men's love and virtue being counted as nothing, in 
order not to confound the monarchy. Thence it comes 
that in the marriages which take place between equals, 
and in accordance with the judgment of men and of the 
relations, the persons are often so different in heart, 
temperament, and disposition, that instead of entering 
into an engagement which leads to salvation, they throw 
themselves into the confines of hell." 

" Instances have also been seen," said Geburon, " of 
persons who have married for love, with hearts, disposi- 
tions and temperaments mutually conformable, without 
concerning themselves about difference of birth, and who 
have, nevertheless, repented of what they have done. In 
fact, a great but indiscreet love often changes into jeal- 
ousy and fury." 

" To me it seems," said Parlamente, " that neither 
the one course nor the other is commendable, and that 
those persons who submit to the will of God regard 
neither glory, nor avarice, nor voluptuousness. They 
alone are to be commended, who, actuated by virtuous 
love, sanctioned by the consent of their relations, desire 
to live in the married state as God and nature ordain. 
Though there is no condition without its troubles, I have 
yet seen these latter run their course without repenting 
that they had entered upon it. The present company is 
not so unhapjDy as not to number in it married persons 
of this class." 

Thereupon Hircan, Geburon, Simontault, and Saffre- 
dent vowed that they had all married in that very spirit, 
and that accordingly they had never repented of the act. 
Whether that was true or not, the ladies whom it con- 
cerned were nevertheless so pleased with the declaration, 
that, being of opinion they could hear nothing better than 

Fourth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 35 1 

it, they rose to go and give thanks for it to God, and found 
that the monks were ready for the vesper service. Their 
devotions ended, they supped, but not without reverting 
to the subject of marriage, everyone recountmg his own 
experience whilst wooing his wife. But as they inter- 
rupted each other, it was not possible to make a full 
record of their several stories, which was a pity, for they 
were not less agreeable than those they had recounted 
in the meadow. 

This conversation was so interesting that bed-time 
arrived before they were aware of it. Madame Oisille 
was the first to perceive that it was time to retire, and 
her example was followed by the rest. All went to bed 
in the gayest humour, and I do not think the married 
couples slept more than the others, but spent a part of 
the night in talking over their affections in times past, 
and giving each other evidences of its present existence. 
Thus the night passed agreeably away. 


3 5 2 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [ A 'ovd ^ i . 


Madame Oisille, as soon as day had dawned, pre- 
pared for them a spiritual breakfast of such good savour, 
that it fortified their minds and bodies aUke ; and the 
company were so attentive to it, that it seemed that 
they never heard a sermon to more advantage. The 
second bell for mass having rung, they went to meditate 
on the good things they had heard. After mass they 
took a little walk while waiting for dinner, anticipating 
as agreeable a day as the preceding one. Saffredent 
said that he was so charmed with the good cheer they 
made and the recreation they enjoyed, that he could 
wish it might be a month yet before the bridge was 
finished ; but as it was no comfort to the abbot to live 
along with so many respectable people into whose pres- 
ence he durst not bring his usual female pilgrims, he 
urged the workmen to make all possible speed. When 
the company had rested awhile after dinner, they returned 
to their usual pastime, and everyone being seated, they 
asked Parlamente who should begin. "It strikes me," 
she said, " that Saffredent would do very well, for his 
face does not seem to me adapted to make us cry." 

"Nay, ladies, you will be very cruel," he replied, " if 
you bestow no pity upon a Cordelier whose story I am 
going to relate to you. You will say, perhaps as has 
been already remarked of other incidents of this kind, 
that they are things which have happened to ladies, and 
would not have been attempted but for the facility of 
their execution ; but that is not the case : on the con* 

Fifth day.\ QUEEM OF NA VARRE. 353 

trary, you shall see from the example I am about to 
adduce, that the Cordeliers are so blind in their lust, that 
they know neither fear nor prudence." 


Strange and novel penance imposed by a cordelier confessor on a 

young lady. 

When Margaret of Austria came to Cambrai on the 
part of the emperor her nephew to negotiate the peace 
between him and the Most Christian King, who sent on 
his part Louise of Savoy his mother, there was in the 
suite of Margaret of Austria the Countess of Aiguemont, 
who passed in that assembly for the most beautiful of 
the Flemish ladies. After the conference the Countess 
of Aiguemont returned home, and the season of Advent 
being come, she sent to a monastery of Cordeliers, re- 
quiring a preacher, a good man, fit to preach to and 
confess the countess and her household. The warden, 
who received great benefits from the house of Aiguemont 
and from that of Fiennes, to which the countess belonged, 
sent the best preacher in the society, and the one who 
was regarded as the most upright man. He performed 
his duty very well in preaching the Advent sermons, and 
the countess was perfectly satisfied with him. 

On Christmas night, when the countess intended to 
receive her Creator, she sent for her confessor, and after 
having well and duly confessed in a chapel carefully 
closed that the confession might be more secret, she 
gave place to her lady of honour, who, having made her 
confession, next sent her daughter. After the young 



penitent had told all she knew, the good confessor knew 
something of her secrets, which prompted him to impose 
upon her an extraordinary penance, and he was bold 
enough to say to her, " Your sins, my daughter, are so 
great, that I order you, for penance, to wear my cord on 
your bare flesh." 

The demoiselle, who had no wish to disobey him, 
replied, " Give it me, father, and I will not fail to wear 

" No, daughter," replied the holy man, " it would not 
be meet for you to fasten it on. That must be done by 
these very hands from which you are to receive abso- 
lution, and afterwards you will be absolved from all 3'our 

The demoiselle began to cry, and said she would do 
no such thing. "What !" exclaimed the confessor, "are 
you a heretic, to refuse the penances which God and our 
holy Mother Church have ordained ? " 

" I make of confession the use which the Church has 
commanded," replied the demoiselle. " I am quite will- 
ing to receive absolution and to do penance ; but I will 
not have you put your hands to it ; for in that case, I 
refuse to submit to your penance." 

" That being the case," said the confessor, " I cannot 
give you absolution." 

The demoiselle withdrew, sorely troubled in con- 
science, for she was so young that she was afraid she 
had transgressed by the refusal she had given to the 
reverend father. After mass was over, and the Countess 
of Aiguemont had taken the communion, her lady of 
honour, intending to do the same, asked her daughter if 
she was ready. The girl replied, with tears, that she 
had not yet confessed. " Then, what have you been 
doing so long with the preacher?" inquired her mother. 

Fifth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 355 

" Nothing," replied the daughter ; " for as I would not 
submit to the penance he ordered me, he would not 
grant me absolution." 

Thereupon the mother questioned her so shrewdly, 
that she learned the nature of the extraordinary penance 
which the monk wished to impose upon her daughter. 
She made her confess to another, and afterwards they 
both communicated. 

As soon as the countess returned from church, the 
lady of honour complained to her of the preacher, to the 
countess's great surprise, for she had a very good opinion 
of him. All her anger, however, did not hinder her 
from laughing at the oddity of the penance ; but neither 
did her laughter hinder her from having the good father 
chastised. He was handsomely thrashed in the kitchen, 
and so compelled, by dint of blows, to confess the truth ; 
after which, he was sent away, bound hand and foot, to 
his warden, with a request that another time he would 
commission better men to preach the word of God. 

Consider, ladies, if the monks do not scruple to dis- 
play their wickedness in so illustrious a house, what are 
they not capable of doing in the poor places to which 
they commonly go to make their gatherings, and where 
they have such full opportunities that it is a miracle if 
they quit them without scandal } This obliges me to 
entreat, ladies, that you will change your scorn into com- 
passion, and consider that the power which can blind 
the Cordeliers does not spare the ladies, when he finds 
them a fair mark for his shafts. 

" Assuredly, this was a wicked Cordelier," said Oisille. 
" A monk, a priest, and a preacher, to be guilty, on 
Christmas day, of such an infamy, and that in the house 
of God, and under the sacred veil of confession ! This 
was carrying impiety and villany to the very climax." 


"Why," said Hircan, "to hear you talk, one would 
think the Cordeliers should be angels, or more chaste 
than other men ; but they are quite the reverse, as you 
must know from many an example. As for this one, it 
appears to me that he was very excusable, finding him- 
self, as he did, shut up alone with a handsome girl." 

" Nay," said Oisille, "but it was Christmas night." 

" The very thing that makes him the more excus- 
able," said Simontault, "for being in Joseph's place, 
beside a beautiful virgin, he had a mind to try and beget 
a baby, in order to play the mystery of the Nativity to 
the life." 

" Truly," said Parlamente, " if he had thought of 
Joseph and the Virgin Mary, he would not have har- 
boured such a wicked purpose. At any rate, he was an 
audacious villain to make such a criminal attempt upon 
no encouragement." 

"The manner in which the countess had him casti- 
gated," said Oisille, " might serve, methinks, as a warn- 
ing to others like him." 

" I do not know if she did well," said Nomerfide, 
" thus to scandalise her neighbour, and if it would not 
have been better to remonstrate with him on his fault 
in private and gently, than thus to divulge it." 

" That I think would have been better," said Ge- 
buron, "for we are commanded to reprove our neighbour 
in secret, before we speak of his offence, not only to the 
Church, but to any person whatever. When a man is 
deprived of all motives on the side of honour, it is very 
hard for him to reform ; and the reason is, that shame 
keeps as many from sin as does conscience." 

"I think," said Parlamente, "that every one should 
practise the precepts of the Gospel, and it is very scan- 
dalous that those who preach them should do the re- 

Fifth day.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. x\l 

verse ; therefore we need have no fear of scandahsino- 
those who scandalise others. On the contrary, it ap- 
pears to me meritorious to make them known for what 
they are, so that we may be on our guard against their 
wiles with regard to the fair sex, who are not always 
wary and prudent. But to whom does Hircan give his 
voice ? " 

" Since you ask me," he replied, " I give it to you, to 
whom no sensible man could refuse it." 

"Well, then," rejoined Parlamente, " I will tell you 
a story to which I can testify of my own knowledge. I 
have always heard that the weaker the vessel in which 
virtue abides, and the more violently it is assaulted by a 
powerful and formidable antagonist, the more worthy is 
it of praise, and the more conspicuously is its nature 
displayed. That the strong defends hmiself against the 
strong is no matter for wonder; but to see the weak beat 
the strong is a thing to be extolled by all the world. 
Knowing the persons of whom I mean to speak, me- 
thinks it would be wronging the truth I have seen hid 
under so mean a garb that no one made any account of 
it, if I did not speak of her by whom were done the hon- 
ourable actions of which I am about to tell you." 



Chaste perseverance of a maiden, who resisted the obstinate pursuit 
of one of the greatest lords in France — Agreeable issue of the 
affair for the demoiselle. 

There once lived in one of the best towns of Tou- 
raine a lord of great and illustrious family, who had been 
brought up from his youth in the province. All I need 
say of the perfections, beauty, grace, and great qualities 
of this young prince is, that in his time he never had 
his equal. At the age of fifteen, he took more pleasure 
in hunting and hawking than in beholding fair ladies. 
Being one day in a church, he cast his eyes on a young 
girl who, during her childhood, had been brought up in 
the chateau in which he resided. After the death of 
her mother, her father had withdrawn thence, and gone 
to reside with his brother in Poitou. This daughter of 
his, whose name was Francoise, had a bastard sister, 
whom her father was very fond of, and had married to 
this young prince's butler, who maintained her on as hand- 
some a footing as any of her family. The father died, 
and left to Francoise for her portion all he possessed 
about the good town in question, whither she went to 
reside after his death ; but as she was unmarried and 
only sixteen, she would not keep house, but went to 
board with her sister. 

The young prince was much struck with this girl, 
who was very handsome for a light brunette, and of a 
grace beyond her rank, for she had the air of a young 
lady of quality, or of a princess, rather than of a bour- 
geoise. He gazed upon her for a long while ; and as 
he had never loved, he felt in his heart a pleasure that 

Fifth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VAKRE. 359 

was new to him. On returning to his chamber, he made 
inquiries about the girl he had seen at church, and rec- 
ollected that formerly, when she was very young, she 
used often to play in the chateau with his sister, whom 
he put in mmd of her. His sister sent for her, gave her 
a very good reception, and begged her to come often to 
see her, which she did whenever there was any enter- 
tainment or assembly. The young prince was very glad 
to see her, and so glad that he chose to be deeply in 
love with her. Knowing that she was of low birth, he 
thought he should easily obtain of her what he sought ; 
and, zs, he had no opportunity to speak with her, he sent 
a gentleman of his chamber to her with orders to ac- 
quaint her with his intentions, and settle matters with 
her. The girl, who was good and pious, replied that she 
did not believe that so handsome a prince as his master 
would care to look upon a plain girl like herself, espe- 
cially as there were such handsome ones in the chateau 
that he had no need to look elsewhere ; and that she 
doubted not he had said all this to her out of his own 
head and without orders from his master. 

As obstacles make desire more violent, the prince 
now became more hotly intent on his purpose than ever, 
and wrote to her, begging her to believe everythmg the 
gentleman should say to her on his part. She could 
read and write very well, and she read the letter from 
beginning to end ; but for no entreaties the gentleman 
could make would she ever reply to it, saying that a 
person of her humble birth should never take the liberty 
to write to so great a prince ; but that she begged he 
would not take her for such a fool as to imagine that he 
esteemed her enough to love her as much as he said. 
Moreover, he was mistaken if he fancied that because 
§he was of obscure birth, he might do as he pleased with 


her, and that to convince him of ihe contrary, she felt 
obliged to declare to him that, bourgeoise as she was, 
there was no princess whose heart was more upright 
than hers. There were no treasures in the world she 
esteemed so much as honour and conscience. And the 
only favour she begged of him was, that he would not 
hinder her from preserving that treasure all her life long, 
and that he might take it for certain that she would 
never change her mind though it were to cost her her 

The young prince did not find this answer to his 
liking. Nevertheless, he loved her but the more for it. 
and failed not to lay siege to her when she went to 
mass ; and during the whole service he had no eyes but 
to gaze on that image to which he addressed his devo- 
tions. But when she perceived this, she changed her 
place and went to another chapel, not that she disliked 
to see him, for she would not have been a reasonable 
creature if she had not taken pleasure in looking on him ; 
but she was afraid of being seen by him, not thinking 
highly enough of herself to deserve being loved with a 
view to marriage, and being too high-minded to be able 
to accommodate herself to a dishonourable love. When 
she saw that in whatever part of the church she placed 
herself, the prince had mass said quite near it, she went 
no more to that church, but to the most distant one she 
could find. Moreover, when the prince's sister often 
sent for her, she always excused herself on the plea of 

The prince, seeing he could not have access to her, 
had recourse to his butler, and promised him a large re- 
ward if he served him in this affair. The butler, both 
to please his master and for the hope of lucre, promised 
to do so cheerfully. He made it a practice to relate 

The Prince and the Peasant Girl. 

Photographed from Ijfe. 
Copyright, 1902, by D. Trenor. 

Fifth day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 361 

daily to the prince all she said and did, and assured him, 
among other things, that she avoided as much as possible 
all opportunities of seeing him. The prince's violent 
desire for an interview with her, set him upon devising 
another expedient. As he was already beginning to be 
a very good horseman, he bethought him of going to 
ride his great horses in a large open place of the town, 
exactly opposite to the house of the butler, in which 
Fran^oise resided. One day, after many courses and 
leaps, which she could see from her chamber window, he 
let himself fall off his horse into a great puddle. Though 
he was not hurt, he took care to make great moans, and 
asked if there was no house into which he might go and 
change his clothes. Every one offered him his own ; 
but some one having remarked that the butler's was the 
nearest and the best, it was chosen in preference to any 
of the others. He was shown into a well-furnished 
chamber, and as his clothes were all muddy, he stripped 
to his shirt and went to bed. Every one except his gen- 
tleman having gone away to fetch other clothes for the 
prince, he sent for his host and hostt-ss, and asked them 
where was Francoise } They had a good deal of trouble 
to find her, for as soon as she had seen the prince come 
in, she had gone and hid herself in the remotest corner 
of the house. Her sister found her at last, and begged 
her not to be afraid to come and see so polite and 
worthy a prince. 

" What! sister," said Francoise, "you, whom I regard 
as my mother, would you persuade me to speak to a 
young prince of whose intentions I cannot be ignorant, 
as you well know t " 

But her sister used so many arguments, and promised 
so earnestly not to leave her alone, that Francoise went 
with her, with a countenance so pale and dejected, that 


she was an object rather to inspire pity than love. When 
the young prince saw her at his bedside, he took her 
cold and trembling hand, and said, " Why, Francoise, do 
you think me such a dangerous and cruel man that I eat 
the women I look at ? Why do you so much fear a man 
who desires only your honour and advantage ? You 
know that I have everywhere sought in vain for oppor- 
tunities to see and speak to you. To grieve me the 
more, you have shunned the places where I had been 
used to see you at mass, and thereby you have deprived 
me of the satisfaction of my eyes and my tongue. But 
all this has availed you nothing. I have done what you 
have seen in order to come hither, and have run the risk 
of breaking my neck in order to have the pleasure of 
speaking to you without restraint, I entreat you, then, 
Francoise, since it would be hard for me to have taken 
all this pains to no purpose, that as I have so much love 
for you, you will have a little for me." 

After waiting a long while for her reply, and seeing 
she had tears in her eyes, and durst not look up, he drew 
her towards him and almost succeeded in kissing her. 
" No, my lord, no," she then said, " what you ask cannot be. 
Though I am but a worm in comparison with you, honour 
is so dear to me that I would rather die than wound it 
in the least degree for any pleasure in the world ; and 
my fear, lest those who have seen you come in conceive 
a false opinion of me, makes me tremble as you see. 
Since you are pleased to do me the honour to address 
me, you will also pardon the liberty I take in replying 
to you as honour prescribes. I am not, my lord, so foolish 
or so blind as not to see and know the advantages with 
which God has endowed you, and to believe that she who 
shall possess the heart and person of such a prince will 
be the happiest woman in the world. But what good 

Fifth day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 363 

does that do me ? That happiness is not for me or for 
any woman of my rank ; and I should be a downright 
simpleton if I even entertained the desire. What reason 
can I believe you have for addressing yourself to me ; 
but that the ladies of your house, whom you love, and 
who have so much grace and beauty, are so virtuous that 
you dare not ask of them what the lowness of my con- 
dition makes you easily expect of me ? I am sure that 
if you had of such as me what you desire, that weakness 
would supply you with matter to entertain your mis- 
tresses for two good hours ; but I beg you to believe, my 
lord, that I am not disposed to afford you that pleasure 
I was brought up in a house in which I learned what it 
is to love. My father and mother were among your 
good servants. Since then it has not pleased God that 
I should be born a princess to marry you, or in a rank 
sufficiently high to be your friend, I entreat you not to 
think of reducing me to the rank of the unfortunates of 
my sex, since there is no one who esteems you more 
than I, or more earnestly desires that you may be one of 
the happiest princes in Christendom. If you want 
women of my station for your diversion, you will find 
plenty in this town incomparably handsomer than my- 
self, and who will spare you the trouble of soliciting 
them so much. Attach yourself, then, if you please, to 
those who will gladly let you buy their honour, and harass 
no longer a poor girl who loves you better than herself ; 
for if God were this day to require your life or mine, it 
would be a happiness to me to sacrifice mine in order to 
save yours. If I shun your person, it is not for want of 
love, but rather because I too well love your conscience 
and mine, and because my honour is more precious to 
me than my life. I ask you, my lord, if you please, to 
continue to honour me with your good-will, and I wilj 

364 ^-^^ HEPTAMEKON OF THE [A^ove/ 42. 

pray to God all my life for your health and prosperity. 
It is true that the honour you do me will give me a better 
opinion of myself among persons of my own station ; for 
after having seen you, where is the man of my own con- 
dition whom I would deign to regard ? Thus my heart 
will be free and under no obligation, except that which I 
shall ever acknowledge, to pray to God for you, which is 
all I can do for you while I live." 

Contrary as this reply was to the prince's desires, 
nevertheless he could not help esteeming her as she de- 
served. He did all he could to make her believe he 
would never love anyone but herself ; but she had so 
much sense that he never could bring her to entertain 
so unreasonable a notion. Though, during the course 
of this conversation, it was often intimated to the prince 
that fresh clothes had been brought him, he was so glad 
to remain where he was that he sent back word he was 
asleep. But at last, supper-time being come, and not 
daring to absent himself from respect for his mother, 
who was one of the most correct ladies in the world, he 
went away, more impressed than ever with the excel- 
lence of Francoise. He often talked of her to the gentle- 
man who slept in his chamber. That person, imagining 
that money would be more effectual than love, advised 
him to present a considerable sum to the girl in con- 
sideration of the favour he solicited. As the young 
prince's mother was his treasurer, and his pocket money 
was not much, he borrowed, and out of his own funds 
and those of his friends he made up a sum of five hun- 
dred crowns, which he sent to Francoise by his gentle- 
man, commissioning him to beg that she would change 
her mind. 

" Tell your master," she said, when the gentleman 
offered her the present, " that my heart is so noble and 

Fifth day\ QUE EM OF NA VARIiE 365 

generous, that were it my humour to do what he desires, 
his good looks and his pleasing qualities would have 
already made a conquest of me ; but since these are in- 
capable of making me take the slightest step at variance 
with honour, all the money in the world could not do it 
You will take back his money to him, if you please, for 
I prefer honest poverty to all the wealth he could bestow 
upon me." 

Baffled by this downright refusal, the gentleman was 
tempted to think that a little violence might succeed, 
and he dropped threatening hints of her master's in- 
fluence and power. " Make a bugbear of the prince," 
she said, laughing in his face, " to those who do not 
know him ; but I, who know him to be wise and virtuous, 
can never believe that you say this by his order ; and I 
am persuaded that he will disavow it all if you repeat it 
to him. But even were it true that you had his authority 
for what you say, I tell you that neither torments nor 
death could ever shake my resolution, for, as I have said 
before, since love has not changed my heart, no earthly 
good or evil can ever effect what that has failed to ac- 

It was with indescribable vexation that the gentle- 
man, who had undertaken to humanize her, carried back 
this answer to his master, whom he urged to carry his 
point by all possible means, representing to him that it 
would be shameful for him to have undertaken such a 
conquest and not achieve it. The young prince, who 
wished to employ only fair means, and who was afraid, 
besides, of his mother's anger if the story got abroad 
and reached her ears, durst not take any further step, until 
at last the gentleman suggested to him an expedient, 
which seemed to him so good, that he felt already as if 
the fair one was his own. To this end he spoke to the 
butler, who, being ready to serve his master on any 


terms, consented to everything required of him. It 
was arranged, then, that the butler should invite his 
wife and his sister-in-law to go see their vintage at 
a house he had near the forest ; he did so, and they 
agreed to the proposal. The appointed day being come, 
he gave notice to the prince, who was to go to the same 
place, accompanied only by his gentleman. But it 
pleased God that his mother was that day adorning a most 
beautiful cabinet, and had all her children to help her; 
so that the proper time passed by before the prince could 
get away. This was no fault of the butler's, who had 
fully performed his part ; for he made his wife counter- 
feit illness, and when he was on horseback with his 
sister-in-law on the croup, she came and told him that 
she could not go. But the hour having passed by and 
no prince appearing, " I believe," said he to his sister- 
in-law, " we may as well go back to town." 

" Who hinders us } " said Francoise. 

" I was waiting for the prince, who had promised to 
come," said the butler. 

His sister, clearly discerning his wicked purpose, 
replied, " Wait no longer for him, brother ; for I know 
that he will not come to-day." 

He acquiesced, and took her home again. On arriving 
there she let him know her dissatisfaction, and told him 
plainly he was the devil's valet, and did more than he 
was commanded ; for she was very sure that it was his 
work and the gentleman's, not the prince's ; that they 
both liked better to flatter his weaknesses, and gain 
money, than to do their duty as good servants ; but that 
since she knew this she would no longer remain in his 
house. Thereupon she sent for her brother to take her 
away to his own country, and immediately quitted hei 
sister's house. 

The butler having missed his blow, went to the 

Fifth Jay.] QUEE2V OF //A VARRF. ^67 

chateau to know why the prince had not come, and met 
him on the way, mounted on his mule, with no other 
attendant than his confidential gentleman. 

" Well," said the prince, the moment he saw him, 
" is she still there ? " 

The butler told him what had happened, and the 
prince was greatly vexed at having missed the rendez- 
vous, which he regarded as his last hope. However, he 
took such pains to meet Francoise, that at last he fell in 
with her in a company from which she could not escape, 
and upbraided her strongly for her cruelty to him, and 
for quitting her brother-in-law's house. Francoise told 
him she had never known a more dangerous man, and 
that he, the prince, was under great obligations to him, 
since he employed in his service not only his body and 
his substance, but also his soul and his conscience. The 
prince could not help feeling that there was no hope for 
him ; he therefore resolved to press her no more, and he 
continued all his life to entertain a great esteem for her. 
One of his domestics, charmed by her virtue, wished to 
marry her; but she could never bring herself to consent 
without the approbation and command of the prince, on 
whom she had set her whole affection. She had him 
spoken to on the subject ; he consented to the marriage, 
and it took place. She lived all her life in good repute, 
and the prince did her much kindness.* 

What shall we say, ladies } Are we so low spirited 

as to make our servants our masters } She whose story 

I have related to you was not to be overcome either by 

love or by importunity. Let us imitate her example and 

* The young lord spoken of in this novel is evidently Francis 
I : and the town of Touraine is Amboise, where Louise of Savoy 
resided with her children. 


be victorious over ourselves. Nothing is more praise 
worthy than to subdue one's passions. 

" I see but one thing to regret in this case," said 
Oisille, " which is, that actions so virtuous did not take 
place in the time of the historian. Those who have so 
lauded Lucretia would have left her story to relate the 
virtues of this heroine. They seem to me so great that 
I could hardly believe them, had we not sworn to speak 
the truth." 

" Her virtue does not seem to me so great as you 
make it out to be," said Hircan. " You must have seen 
plenty of squeamish invalids, who left good and whole- 
some food for what was bad and unwholesome. Perhaps 
this girl loved some one else, for whose sake she despised 
persons of the first order." 

To that Parlamente replied, that the life and end of 
this girl showed "that she had never loved but him 
whom she loved above her life, but not above her honour." 

" Put that out of your head," said Saffredent, " and 
learn what was the origin of that phrase honour, which 
prudes make such a fuss about. Perhaps those who talk 
so much about it do not know what it means. In the 
time when men were not over crafty — the golden age, if 
you will — love was so frank, simple, and strong that no 
one knew what it was to dissemble, and he who loved 
most was the most esteemed. But malignity, avarice, 
and sin, having taken possession of men's hearts, drove 
out from them God and love, and put there, instead of 
them, self-love, hypocrisy, and feigning. The ladies see- 
ing that they had not the virtue of true and genuine 
love, and that hypocrisy was very odious amongst man- 
kind, gave it the name of honour. Those, then, who 
could not compass that true love said that they were 
forbidden by honour. This practice they have erected 

Fifth day\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 369 

into so cruel a law that even those of their sex who love 
perfectly dissemble, and think that this virtue is a vice ; 
but such of them as have good sense and sound judgment 
never fall into this error. They know the difference be- 
tween darkness and light ; and know that genuine love 
consists in manifesting chastity of heart, which lives 
upon love alone, and does not pride itself on dissimula- 
tion, which is a vice." 

" Yet it is said," observed Dagoucin, " that the most 
secret love is the most commendable." 

"Secret," replied Simontault, "for those who might 
misjudge it, but clear and avowed at least for the two 
persons concerned." 

" So I understand it," said Dagoucin. "Nevertheless, 
it were better it were unknown by one of the two than 
known to a third. I believe that the subject of the tale 
loved the more strongly that she did not declare her 

" Be this as it may," said Longarine, " virtue is to be 
esteemed ; and the highest virtue is to overcome one's 
own heart. When I consider the means and opportuni- 
ties she had, I maintain that she was entitled to be 
called a heroine." 

" Since you make self-mortification the measure of 
virtue," said Saffredent, " the prince deserved more praise 
than she did. To be convinced of this, one has only to 
consider his passion for her, his power, his opportunities, 
and the means he might have employed, yet would not, 
that he might not violate the rule of perfect affection, 
which makes the indigent equal to the prince, but con- 
sented himself with employing the means which fair 
dealing permits." 

" There is many a one who would not have done that," 
said Hircan. 



" He is the more to be esteemed," replied Longarine, 
" because he overcame the evil disposition common to 
men. Blessed, unquestionably, is he who has it in his 
power to do evil yet does it not." 

"You put me in mind," said Geburon, "of a woman 
who was more afraid of offending men than God, her 
honour, and love." 

" Pray tell us the story,"' said Parlamente. 

" There are people," he continued, " who own no God, 
or who, if they believe there is one, think him so remote 
that he can neither see nor know the bad acts they com- 
mit ; or if He does, they suppose Him to be so careless 
and indifferent to what is done here below that he will 
not punish them. Of this way of thinking was a lady, 
whose name I shall conceal for the honour of her race, 
and call her Jambicque. She used often to say that to 
care only for God was all very well, but the main point 
with her was to preserve her honour before men. But 
you will see, ladies, that her prudence and her hypocrisy 
did not save her. Her secret was revealed, as you shall 
find from her story, in which I will state nothing but 
what is true, except the names of the persons and the 
places, which I shall change." 


Hypocrisy of a court lady discovered by the denouement of her 
amours, which she wished to conceal. 

A PRINCESS of great eminence lived in a very hand- 
some chateau, and had with her a lady named Jambicque, 
of a haughty and audacious spirit, who was, nevertheless, 
such a favourite with her mistress that she did nothing 

Fifth day \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE 37 1 

but by her advice, believing her to be the most discreet 
and virtuous lady of her time. This Jambicque used to 
inveigh loudly against illicit love ; and if ever she saw- 
that any gentleman was enamoured with one of her 
companions, she used to reprimand the pair with great 
bitterness, and tell a very bad tale of them to her mis- 
tress, so that she was much more feared than loved. As 
for her, she never spoke to a man except aloud, and with 
so much haughtiness that she was universally regarded 
as an inveterate foe to love ; but, in her heart, she was 
quite otherwise. In fact, there was a gentleman in her 
mistress's service with whom she was as much in love 
as a woman could be ; but so dear to her was her good 
name, and the reputation she had made herself, that she 
entirely dissembled her passion. 

After suffering for a year, without choosing to solace 
herself, like other women, by means of her eyes and her 
tonsfue, her heart became so inflamed that she was driven 
to seek the ultimate remedy ; and she made up her mind 
that it was better to satisfy her desire, provided none 
but God knew her heart, than to confide it to one who 
might betray her secret. Having come to this resolu- 
tion, one day when she was in her mistress's chamber, 
and was looking out on a terrace, she saw the gentle- 
man she loved so much walking there. After gazing on 
him until darkness concealed him from her sight, she 
called her little page, and, pointing out the gentleman to 
him, " Do you see," she said, " that gentleman in a 
crimson satin doublet, and a robe trimmed with lynx 
fur } Go and tell him that a friend of his wishes to see 
him, and is waiting for him in the gallery in the garden." 

Whilst the page was doing his errand, she went out 
the back way, and went to the gallery, after putting on 
her mask and pulling down her hood. When the gentle- 

272 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE {Novel i,-^. 

man entered the gallery, she first fastened both the doors, 
so that no one should come in upon them, and then 
embracing him with all her might, she said in a low 
whisper, " This long time, my friend, the love I have for 
you has made me long for place and time to speak with 
you ; but my fear for my honour has been so great that 
I have been constrained, in spite of myself, to conceal 
my passion. But at last love has prevailed over fear ; 
and as your honour is known to me, I declare that if you 
will promise to love me, and never to speak of it to any- 
one, or inquire whom I am, I will be all my life your 
faithful and loving friend ; and I assure you I will never 
love any but you ; but I would rather die than tell you 
who I am ! " 

The gentleman promised all she asked, and thereby 
encouraged her to treat, him in the same way — that is tc 
say, refuse him nothing. It was in winter, about five or 
six o'clock in the evening, when, of course, he could not 
see much. But if his eyes were of little service to him 
on the occasion, his hands were not so. Touching her 
clothes, he found they were of velvet, a costly stuff in those 
times, and not worn every day, except by ladies of high 
family. As far as the hand could judge, all beneath was 
neat, and in the best condition. Accordingly he tried 
to regale her to the best of his ability ; she too per- 
formed her part equally well, and the gentleman easily 
perceived she was married. 

When she was about to return to the place whence 
she came, the gentleman said to her, "Highly do I prize 
the favour you have conferred on me without my deserv- 
ing it ; bu-t that will be still more precious to me which 
you will grant at my entreaty. Enchanted as I am by 
your gracious favour, I beg you will tell me if I am to 
expect a continuance of it, and in what manner I am 

Fifth ,{ay.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 373 

to act ; for, not knowing you, how am I to address you 
elsewhere to solicit the renewal of my happiness ? " 

" Give yourself no concern about that," replied the 
fair one, " but rely upon it that every evening after my 
mistress has supped, I shall be sure to send for you, if 
you are on the terrace where you were just now. But, 
above all thmgs, ^o not forget what you have promised. 
When I simply send word that you are wanted, you will 
understand that I await you in the gallery ; but if you 
hear speak of going to meat, you may either retire or 
come to our mistress's apartment. Above all, I beg you 
never to attempt to know who I am, unless you wish to 
break our friendship." 

The lady and the gentleman then went their several 
ways. Their intrigue lasted a long while without his 
ever being able to know who she was, though he had a 
marvellous longing to satisfy his curiosity on the point. 
He wearied his imagination in vain to guess who she 
might be, and could not conceive that there was a woman 
in the world who did not choose to be seen and loved. 
As he had heard some stupid preacher say that no one 
who had ever seen the face of the devil could ever love 
him, he imagined that she might possibly be some evil 
spirit. To clear up his doubts, he resolved to know who 
she was who received him so graciously. The next time, 
therefore, that she sent for him, he took some chalk, and 
in the act of embracing her marked her shoulder with- 
out her perceiving it. As soon as she had left him, he 
hastened to the princess's chamber, and stationed him- 
self at the door to observe the shoulders of the ladies 
who entered. It was not long before he saw that same 
Jambicque advance to the door, with such an air of 
lofty disdain, that he durst not think of scrutinizing her 
like the others, feeling assured that she could not be the 


person he sought. But when her back was turned, he 
could not help seeing the mark of the chalk, though 
such was his astonishment he could hardly believe his 
own eyes. However, after having well considered her 
figure, which corresponded precisely to that he was in 
the habit of touching in the dark, he was convinced that 
it was she herself ; and he was very glad to see that a wo- 
man who had never been suspected of having a gallant, 
and was renowned for having refused so many worthy 
gentlemen, had at last fixed upon him alone. 

Love, who never remains in one mood, could not suf 
fcr him long to enjoy that satisfaction The gentleman 
conceived such a good opinion of his own powers of pleas- 
ing, and flattered himself with such fair hopes, that he 
resolved to make his love known to her, imagining that 
when he had done so, he should have reason to love her 
still more passionately. One day, when the princess 
was walking in the garden, the Lady Jambicque turned 
into an alley by herself. The gentleman, seeing her alone, 
went to converse with her, and feigning not to have seen 
her elsewhere, said to her, " I have long loved you, mad- 
emoiselle, but durst not tell you so, for fear of offending 
you. This constraint is so irksome to me that I must 
speak or die ; for I do not believe that any one can love 
you as I do." 

Here the Lady Jambicque cut him short, and looking 
sternly upon him, " Have you ever heard," she said, 
" that I had a lover .'' I trow not ; and I am amazed at 
your presumption in daring to address such language to 
a lady of my character. You have seen enough of me 
here to be aware that I shall never love anyone but my 
husband. Beware, then, how you venture again to speak 
to me in any such way." 

Astonished at such profound hypocrisy, the gentle- 

Fijth day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. ^75 

man could not help laughing. " You have not always 
been so rigid, madam," he said "What is the use of 
dissembling with me ? Is it not better we should love 
perfectly than imperfectly?" 

" I neither love you perfectly nor imperfectly," re- 
plied Jambicque, "but regard you just as I do my mis- 
tress's other servants. But if you continue to speak to 
me in this manner, I am very likely to hate you in such 
sort that you will repent of having given me provoca- 

The gentleman, pushing his point, rejoined, " Where 
are the caresses, mademoiselle, which you bestow upon 
me when I cannot see you ? Why deprive me of them 
now that day reveals your exquisite beauty to me ? " 

"You are out of your senses," exclaimed Jambicque, 
making a great sign of the cross, " or you are the great- 
est liar in the world ; for I don't believe I ever bestowed 
on you more or less caresses than I do at this moment. 
What is it you mean, pray ? " 

The poor gentleman, thinking to force her from her 
subterfuges, named the place where he had met her, and 
told her of the mark he had put upon her with chalk 
in order to recognize her. Her exasperation was then 
so excessive that, instead of confessing, she told him he 
was the most wicked of men to have invented such an 
infamous lie against her, but that she would try to make 
him repent it. Knowing what influence she had with 
her mistress, he tried to appease her, but all in vain. 
She rushed from him in fury, and went to where her 
mistress was walking, who quitted the company with her 
to converse with Jambicque, whom she loved as herself. 
The princess, seeing her so agitated, asked her what 
was the matter 1 Jambicque concealed nothing, but 
told her all the gentleman had said, putting it in so art- 


ful a manner and so much to the poor gentleman's dis- 
advantage, that his mistress that very evening sent him 
orders to go home instantly, without saying a word to 
any one, and to remain there until further orders. He 
obeyed for fear of worse. As long as Jambicque was 
with the princess he remained in exile, and never heard 
from Jambicque, who had warned him truly that he 
should lose her if ever he tried to know her.* 

You may see, ladies, how she, who preferred the 
world's respect to her conscience, lost both the one and 
the other : for everybody now knows what she wished 
to conceal from her lover ; and through her desire to 
avoid being mocked by one alone, she has now become 
an object of derision to all the world. It cannot be said 
in her excuse that hers was an ingenuous love, the sim- 
plicity of which claims every one's pity; for what makes 
her doubly deserving of condemnation is that her design 
was to cover the wickedness of her heart with the mantle 
of glory and honour, and pass before God and man for 
what she was not. But He who will not give His glory 
to another was pleased to unmask her, and make her 
appear doubly infamous. 

* Brantome {Dames Galantes, Discours ii.), gives a detailed 
analysis of this novel in a very lively style, and says of the too- 
talkative gallant, " Those who knew the temper of this gentleman 
will hold him excused, for he was neither cold nor discreet enough 
to play that game, and mask himself with that discretion. Accord- 
ing to what I have heard from my mother, who was in the Queen of 
Navarre's service and knew some secrets of her novels, and was 
herself one of the confabulators {devisanfes), it was my late uncle 
La Chastaigneraye, who was brusque, hasty, and rather volatile.'' 
This Seigneur de La Chastaigneraye is the same who fought the 
famous duel with the Sire de Jarnac, in which he was killed with a 
sword-pass known by the name of coitp de Jarnac. Brantome says 
that the lady was zgrande dame, but he does not name her. 

Fifth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 37^ 

"Truly," said Oisille, " this woman was wholly inex- 
cusable ; for who can say a word for her, since God, 
honour, and love are her accusers ? " 

" Who ? " exclaimed Hircan, " why, pleasure and folly, 
two great advocates for the ladies." 

" If we had no other advocates," said Parlamente, 
" our cause would be ill defended. Those who let pleas- 
ure get the better of them, ought no longer to call them- 
selves women, but men ; for the honour of that sex is 
not sullied but exalted by lust and concupiscence. A man 
who revenges himself on his enemy, and kills him for 
giving him the lie, passes for a brave man, and is so, 
indeed. It is the same thing when a man loves a dozen 
women besides his own wife. But the honour of women 
has a different foundation — that is to say, gentleness, 
patience, and chastity." 

" You speak of the wise among them," rejoined 

" I do not choose to know any others,** said Parla- 

"If there were no foolish ones," said Nomerfide, 
" those who would fain be believed by everybody would 
prove to have been often liars." 

" Pray, Nomerfide," said Geburon, " let me give you 
my voice, in order that you may tell us a tale to that 

"Since virtue constracts me, and you make it my 
turn, I will tell you what I know to that effect. I have 
not heard any one here present fail to speak to the dis- 
advantage of the Cordeliers, and in pity for them I pur- 
pose to say some good of them in the tale you are 
about to hear," 



A cordelier received a double alms for telling the plain truth 

A Cordelier came to the house of Sedan to ask Mad- 
ame de Sedan, who was of the house of Coucy, for a pig 
she used to give them every year as alms. Monseigneur 
de Sedan, who was a wise and facetious man, made the 
good father eat at his table, and to put him on his mettle, 
he said to him among other things, " You do well, good 
father, to made your gatherings whilst you are not known, 
for I am greatly afraid that if once your hypocrisy is dis- 
covered, you will no longer have the bread of poor chil- 
dren earned by the sweat of their fathers." The Corde- 
lier was not abashed by this remark, but replied, " My 
lord, our order is so well founded that it will endure as 
long as the world, for our foundation will never fail so 
long as there are men and women on earth." Monsei- 
gneur de Sedan being curious to know what was this 
foundation he spoke of, pressed him strongly to tell 
After many attempts to excuse himself, the Cordelier 
said, " Know, my lord, that we are founded on the folly 
of women; and as long as there is a foolish woman in 
the world, we shall not die of hunger." 

Madame de Sedan, who was very choleric, hearing 
this speech, flew into such a passion that if her husband 
had not been there, she would have had the Cordelier 
roughly handled ; and she swore very decidedly he should 
never have the pig she had promised ; but Monseigneur 
de Sedan, seeing he had not disguised the truth, swore he 
should have two, and had them sent to his monastery. 

Thus it was, ladies, that the Cordelier, being sure that 

Fifth day. -\ QUEEN OF XAVARRE. 379 

ladies' offerings could not fail him, contrived to have the 
favour and the alms of men for speaking the plain truth. 
Had he been a flatterer and dissembler, he would have 
been more pleasing to the ladies, but not so profitable 
to himself and his brethren. 

The novel was not ended without making the com- 
pany laugh, especially those of them who knew the lord 
and lady of Sedan. " The Cordeliers, then," said Hircan, 
" ought never to preach with a view to make women 
wise, since their folly serves them so well." 

" They do not preach to them to be wise," said Parla- 
mente, " but only to believe themselves so ; for those wo 
men who are wholly mundane and foolish, give them no 
great alms ; but those who by reason of frequenting their 
monasteries, and carrying paternosters marked with a 
death's head, and wearing their hoods lower than others, 
think themselves the wisest, are those who may well be 
called foolish; for they rest their salvation on the confi- 
dence they have in those unrighteous men whom, in con- 
sideration of a little seeming, they esteem demi gods." 

" But who can help believing them," said Ennasuite, 
" seeing that they are ordained by our prelates to preach 
the Gospel, and reprove us for our sins .-' " 

"Those can," replied Parlamente, " who have known 
their hypocrisy, and who know the difference between 
God's doctrine and the devil's." 

■'Jesus!'* exclaimed Ennasuite, " can you suppose 
that those people would dare preach a bad doctrine .'' " 

" Suppose } ' returned Parlamente, " nay, I am sure 
there is nothing they believe less than the Gospel ; I 
mean ttie bad ones among them, for I know many good 
men who preach the Scriptures purely and simply, and 
live likewise without scandal, without ambition or covet- 


ousness, and in chastity that is neither feigned nor con- 
strained. But the streets are not so full of such men as 
of their opposites ; and the good tree is known by its 

" In good faith, I thought," said Ennasuite, "that we 
were bound under pain of mortal sin to believe all they 
tell us from the pulpit of truth, when they speak only 
of what is in Holy Writ, or adduce the expositions of 
holy doctors divinely inspired." 

" For my part," said Parlamente, " I cannot ignore 
the fact that there have been among them men of very 
bad faith ; for I know well that one of them, a doctor in 
theology and a principal of their order, wanted to per- 
suade several of his brethren that the Gospel was no 
more worthy of belief than Caesar's Commentaries, or 
other histories written by authentic doctors; and, from 
the hour I heard that, I would never believe a preacher's 
word, unless I found it conformable to God's, which 
is the true touchstone for distinguishing true words and 


" Be assured," said Oisille, " that they who often read 
it in humility will never be deceived by human fictions 
or inventions ; for whoso has a mind filled with truth 
cannot receive a lie." 

" Yet it seems to me that a simple person is more 
easily deceived than another," observed Simontault. 

" Yes," said Longarine, " if you esteem silliness to 
be simplicity." 

" I say," returned Simontault, " that a good, gentle, 
simple woman is more easily beguiled than one who is 
cunning and crafty." 

" I suppose you know some one who is too full of 
such goodness," said Nomerfide ; " if so, tell us about 

Fifth day. \ (IVEEN OF NAVARRE. 38 1 

" Since you have so well guessed, I will not disap- 
point you," replied Simontault ; " but you must promise 
me not to weep. Those who say, ladies, that your 
craftiness exceeds that of men, would find it hard to 
produce such an example as that I am about to relate to 
you, wherein I intend to set forth the great craft of a 
husband, and the simplicity and good nature of his 

[The preceding novel and epilogue, which are found in all the 
MSS., are wanting in the edition of 1588. Claude Gouget has 
substituted the following for them in that of 1559.J 

How two lovers cleverly consummated their amours, the issue ot 

which was happy. 

There were in Paris two citizens, one of them a 
lawyer, the other a silk-mercer, who had always been 
great friends, and on the most familiar terms. The law- 
yer had a son named Jacques, a young man very pre- 
sentable in good society, who often visited his father's 
friend, the mercer ; but it was for the sake of a hand- 
some daughter the latter had, named Frangoise, to whom 
Jacques paid his court so well that he became assured 
she loved him no less than he loved her. Whilst mat- 
ters stood thus, an army was sent into Provence to op- 
pose the descent which Charles of Austria was about to 
make in that quarter ; and Jacques was forced to join 
that army, being called out in his order. He had hardly 
arrived in the camp when he received news of his 
father's death. This was a double grief to him : on the 
one hand, from the loss of his father ; on the other hand* 


from the obstacles he plainly foresaw he should en- 
counter on his return to seeing his mistress as often 
as he had hoped. Time allayed the first of these 
griefs, but made him feel the other more acutely. As 
death is in the course of nature, and it is usual for pa- 
rents to die before their children, the grief that is felt 
for their loss gradually subsides. But it is quite. other- 
wise with love ; for instead of bringing us death, it 
brings us life, by giving us children who render us im- 
mortal, so to speak ; and this it is, principally, which 
renders our desires the more ardent. 

Jacques, being then returned to Paris, thought of 
nothing but how to renew his intimacy with the mercer, 
in order to traffic in the choicest of his wares under 
pretext of pure friendship. As Frangoise had beauty 
and sprightliness, and had long been marriageable, she 
had several suitors during the absence of Jacques ; but 
whether it was that her father was stingy, or that, hav- 
ing but that one child, he wished to establish her well, 
he had not made much account of any of these suitors. 
As people do not wait nowadays before talking scan- 
dal until they have just grounds for it, especially where 
the honour of our sex is concerned, this set people talk- 
ing ill of Frangoise. Her father, not choosing to do like 
many others, who, instead of reproving tl\e faults of 
their wives and children, seem, on the contrary, to in- 
cite them thereto, did not shut his ears or his eyes to the 
popular opinion, but watched his daughter so closely 
that even those who sought her with no other intention 
than marriage saw her but rarely, and then only in her 
mother's presence. It need not be asked whether or 
not such vigilance was irksome to Jacques, who could 
not conceive that they should treat her so rigorously 
without some important reason to him unknown. This 

Fifth day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 383 

conjecture distressed him, and distracted his feelings be 
tween love and jealousy. 

Resolved at all cost to know what might be this 
mysterious reason, he proposed to ascertain in the first 
place if she still retained the same tender sentiments 
towards him ; and he went about so assiduously that at 
last he found means one morning at mass to place him- 
self near her, when he perceived from her manner that 
she was as glad to see him as he her. As he knew that 
the mother was not so strict as the father, he sometimes 
took the liberty, when he met them on their way to 
church, to accost them familiarly and with ordinary 
politeness ; and this as if he had met them by mere 
chance, the whole being with a view to prepare matters 
for the design he meditated. 

By and by, when the year of mourning for his father 
was nearly expired, he resolved, when changing his gar- 
ments, to put himself on a good footing, and do honour 
to his ancestors. He spoke of his intention to his 
mother, who approved of it, and longed the more 
ardently to see him well married, as she had but two 
children, himself and a daugher, who was already set- 
tled in life. Like an honourable lady as she was, she 
encouraged her son to virtue by setting before him the 
example of a great number of young men of his own age, 
who were making way by themselves, or at least showed 
that they were worthy of the parents from whom they 
derived their being. As the only question now was 
where they should make their purchases, the good lady 
said to her son, " It is my opinion, Jacques, that we 
cannot do better than to go to Daddy Pierre's (this was 
the father of Frangoise). He is one of our friends, and 
would not cheat us." 

This was tickling her son where he itched ; however, 

384 ^-^^^ HEPTAMERO^r OF THE {Nm-'d 44. 

he Stood out, and said, " We will go and deal where we 
are best served, and cheapest. However, as Daddy 
Pierre was the intimate friend of my late father, I shall 
be very glad to give him the first call before we go else- 

One morning, accordingly, the mother and son went 
to see the Sire Pierre, who received them very well, as 
you know that merchants can do when they scent profit. 
They had quantities uf silk unfolded for their inspec- 
tion, and chose what suited them ; but they could not 
agree upon the price, for Jacques haggled on purpose, 
because his mistress's mother did not make her appear- 
ance. At last they left the place without making any 
purchase, and went to look elsewhere ; but Jacques 
could see nothing he liked in any house but his mis- 
tress's, and they returned thither some time afterwards. 
Fran^oise's mother was there, and gave them the best 
possible reception. After the little ceremonies were 
gone through which are practised in such shops, the 
mercer's wife putting a higher price on her goods than 
her husband had done, " You are very hard, madam," 
said Jacques ; " but I see how it is. Father is dead, and 
our friends don't know us now." So saying he pre- 
tended to wipe his eyes, as if the thought of his father 
had drawn tears from them ; but this was only a device 
to help things forward. His mother, who took the mat- 
ter up in perfect good faith, said thereupon, in a dolor- 
ous tone, " Since the death of my poor good man, we are 
visited no more than if we had never been known. 
Little do people care for poor widows." 

Hereupon there ensued new demonstrations of 
friendship, and mutual promises to visit more frequently 
than ever. Some other merchants now came in, and 
were taken by the mercer himself into the back shop. 

Fifth day. | QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 385 

The young man took advantage of this favourable mo- 
ment to say to his mother, " Madam was formerly in 
the habit of visiting, on Saints' days, the holy places in 
our neighbourhood, especially the convents. If she 
would take the trouble sometimes to look in upon us in 
passing, and take her wine, she would do us much 
honour and pleasure." • 

The mercer's wife, who suspected nothing, replied 
that for more than a fortnight past she had intended to 
go into their quarter ; that she would probably do so on 
Sunday, if the weather was fine, and would not fail to 
call and see the lady. The conclusion of this affair was 
followed by that of the bargain for the silks ; for it was 
no time to stand out for a trifle, and risk losing such a 
fine opportunity. 

Things being in this position, and Jacques con- 
sidering that he could not bring his project to bear 
without assistance, he resolved to confide the secret of 
it to a trusty friend. The two took such good measures 
together that nothing remained but to put them in ex- 
ecution. Sunday being come, the mercer's wife and her 
daughter failed not, on their return from their devotions, 
to call upon the widow, whom they found chatting with 
one of her female neighbours in a gallery in the garden, 
whilst her daughter was walking about the alleys with 
her brother and his friend, whose name was Olivier. On 
seeing his mistress, Jacques so commanded his face, 
that not the least change was visible in it, and he went 
to welcome the mother and daughter with a gay and un- 
embarrassed air. As elderly people usually seek each 
other's society, the three old ladies seated themselves on 
a bench with their backs turned to the garden, into 
which the two lovers gradually moved off, and joined the 

other two who were walking there. After a little ex- 



change of compliments, all four renewed their prom- 
enade, in the course of which Jacques recounted his 
piteous case to Frangoise so movingly that she could 
neither grant nor refuse what her lover sued for. It 
needed no more to make him aware that she was 

I must tell you that during this ambulatory conver- 
sation, in order to prevent suspicion, they frequently 
passed to and fro before the bench on which the good 
women were seated, taking care always to talk of trivial 
and indifferent matters, and now and then romping in 
the garden. After the old ladies had been accustomed 
to the noise for half an hour, Jacques made a sign to 
Olivier, who played his part with the other girl so well, 
that she did not notice the two lovers going into an or- 
chard full of cherries, and inclosed with thick hedges of 
roses and very tall gooseberry-bushes. They pretended 
to go into a corner of the orchard to pluck almonds, but 
it was to pluck prunes. There Jacques, instead of giving 
his mistress a green gown, gave her a red one, for the 
colour flushed into her cheeks to find herself surprised 
before she was aware. They had so quickly gathered 
their prunes, because they were ripe, that Olivier could 
not have believed it, but that the girl drooped her head, 
and looked so ashamed. This betokened the truth to 
him, for before she walked with her head erect, without 
any fear that the vein in her eye, which ought to be red, 
should be seen to have the azure hue. Perceiving her 
confusion, Jacques recalled her to her usual deportment 
by suitable remonstrances. 

The lovers took two or three more turns about the 
garden, but not without much crying and sobbing on the 
part of the fair one. " Alas !" she exclaimed, "was it 
for this you loved me ? If I could have thought it — my 

Fifth day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 387 

God ! What shall I do ? I am undone for ever. What 
account will you make of me henceforth, at least if you 
are one of those who love only for pleasure ? Oh, that I 
had died before committing such a fault!" Then fol- 
lowed another violent burst of tears. But Jacques ex- 
erted himself so much to console her, and made such 
promises, confirmed by so many oaths, that before they 
had taken three more turns about the garden, Jacques 
made another sign to his friend, and they entered the 
orchard again by another path. In spite of all "^he could 
do, she could not help receiving more pleasure from this 
second green gown than from the first. In short, she 
liked it so well that they resolved then and there to seek 
means for meeting oftener and more commodiously, 
until such time as her father "should be more favourably 

A young woman, a neighbour of the mercer's, dis- 
tantly related to Jacques, and a good friend to Frangoise, 
was of great help to them in bringing the good man to 
reason. I am informed that they continued their in- 
trigue without discovery or scandal until the consumma- 
tion of their marriage. Fran^oise, who was an only child, 
proved to be very rich for the daughter of a shopkeeper. 
It is true that Jacques had to wait for the greater part 
of his wife's fortune until the death of the father, who 
was so close-fisted and distrustful that what he held in 
one hand he imagined the other stole from him. 

There, ladies, you have an example of a tender con- 
nection well begun, well continued, and better ended ; 
for although it is usual with men to despise a woman or 
a girl as soon as she has given you what you sue to her 
for with most eagerness, yet this young man, loving well 
and in good faith, and having found in his mistress what 


every husband desires to find in his bride ; knowing, 
moreover, that the girl was of good family, and correct 
in all but the fault into which he himself had led her, 
would not commit adultery elsewhere, or trouble the 
peace of another household : conduct for which I deem 
him highly commendable. 

" They were both very blameable, however," said 
Oisille ; " nor was the friend even excusable for having 
ministered to the crime, or at least acquiesced in such a 

" Do you call it a rape when both parties are willing ? " 
said Saffredent. "Are there any better marriages than 
those which are thus brought about by furtive amours .-' 
It has passed into a proverb that marriages are made in 
heaven ; but this applies neither to forced marriages nor 
to those which are made for money, and which are re- 
garded as well and duly approved as soon as the father 
and mother have given their consent." 

" You may say what you please," replied Oisille, 
"but parental authority be obeyed, and if there be 
no father or mother, the will of the other relations must 
be respected. Otherwise, if everyone was free to marry 
according to fancy, how many cornuted marriages would 
there not be .'' Can anyone imagine that a young man 
and a girl from twelve to fifteen years of age know what 
is good for them ? Anyone who should carefully ex- 
amine would find that there are as many unhappy mar- 
riages among those made for love as those made by con- 
straint. Young people who do not know what they want 
take the first they meet without inquiry ; and then, 
when they come gradually to know the mistake they 
have committed, this knowledge leads them into still 
greater errors. Those, on the contrary, who have not 
been married voluntarily, have entered into that engage- 

Fifth Jay. -\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 389 

ment by the advice and at the solicitation of persons 
who have seen more and possess more judgment than 
themselves : so that, when they come to experience the 
good they did not know, they enjoy it much better, and 
embrace it with much more affection." 

" Ay, madam," said Hircan, " but you forget that 
the girl was of ripe years and marriageable, and that 
she knew the injustice of her father, who let her vir- 
ginity grow musty for fear of rubbing the rust off his 
crown pieces. Do you not know that nature is a frisky 
jade ? She loved, she was loved, she found what she 
wanted ready to her hand, and she might call to mind 
the old proverb : ' She that will not when she may, 
when she will she shall have nay.' All these considera- 
tions, added to the promptitude of the assailant, left her 
no tim.e to defend herself. It has been remarked, too, 
that immediately afterwards a great change was noticed 
in her countenance. This change was the result of her 
dissatisfaction at having had so little time to judge 
whether the thing was good or bad : accordingly, she 
did not require very long coaxing to prevail on her to 
make a second trial." 

" For my part," said Longarine, " I should not think 
her excusable but for the good faith of the young man, 
who, acting like an honest man, did not forsake her, but 
to(^k her such as he had made her ; for which I think 
him the more deserving of praise, as youth in these days 
is very corrupt. I do not pretend for all that to excuse 
his first fault, which virtually amounted to rape with re- 
gard to the daughter, and subornation with regard to 
the mother." 

" Not at all, not at all," interrupted Dagoucin ; 
" there was neither rape nor subornation, but all hap- 
pened voluntarily, both on the part of the mothers, who 

390 THE HEPTAMEROA'- OF THE {Ncrjel 45. 

did not prevent it, though they were duped, and on that 
of the girl, who liked it well, and never complained." 

"All this," said Parlamente, "was only the conse- 
quence of the good-nature and simplicity of the mercer's 
wife, who in good faith led her daughter to the butchery 
without knowing it." 

" Why not say to the wedding .? " said Simontault, 
"since this simplicity was not less advantageous to the 
girl than it was prejudicial to a wife who was too easily 
the dupe of her husband." 

"Since you know the story," said Nomerfide, "tell 
it us." 

" With all my heart," replied Simontault, " on condi- 
tion that you promise me not to weep. Those who say, 
ladies, that you have more craft than men, would find it 
hard to produce an example like that of which I am go- 
ing to speak. I purpose to exhibit to you not onl}' the 
great craft of a husband, but also the extreme simplicity 
and good-nature of his wife." 


A husband, giving the innocents to his servant girl, plays upon his 

wife's simplicity. 

There was at Tours a shrewd, cunning fellow, who 
was upholsterer to the late Duke of Orleans, son of 
King Francis I. Though this upholsterer had become 
deaf in consequence of a severe illness, he nevertheless 
retained the full use of his wits, and was so well en- 
dowed in that respect that there was not a man in his 

/•yth Jay.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 391 

trade more cunning than himself. As for other matters, 
you shall see from what I am about to relate to you how 
he contrived to acquit himself. He had married a good 
and honourable woman, with whom he lived very peace- 
ably. He was greatly afraid of displeasing her, and she 
also studied to obey him in all things. But for all the 
great affection the husband had for his wife, he was so 
charitable that he often gave his female neighbours 
what belonged to her ; but this he always did as secretly 
as possible. They had a good stout wench as a servant, 
with whom the upholsterer fell in love. Fearing, how- 
ever, lest his wife should perceive it, he affected often 
to scold her, saying she was the laziest creature he had 
ever seen ; but that he did not wonder at it, since her 
mistress never beat her. 

One day, when they were talking of giving the Inno- 
cents,* the upholsterer said to his wife, " It would be a 

* The learned Gregory, in his treatise on the Boy Bishop, pre- 
served in his posthumous works, observes that " it hath been a 
custom, and yet is elsewhere, to whip up the children upon Inno' 
cents* Day morning, that the memorie of Herod's murder of the 
Innocents might stick the closer, and m a moderate proportion to 
act over the crueltie again in kinde." This custom is mentioned by 
Haspinian, De Orig. Festor. Christianor. fol. i6o* "Hujus laniense 
truculentissimae utpueri Christianorum recordentur, et simul discant 
odium, persecutionem, crucem, exilium, egestatemque statim cum 
rato Christo incipere, virgis caedi soler t in aurora hujus diei adhuc 
in lectulis jacentes a parentibus suis." That which was at first a 
serious parody of the martyrdom of Bethlehem, afterwards degen- 
erated mto a jocular usage, and persons past the age of childhood, 
young women especially, were made to play the part of the Inno- 
cents. It is related that a Seigneur du Rivau, taking leave of some 
ladies to join a hunting-party at a considerable distance, heard 
one of them whisper to another, *' We shall sleep at our ease, and 
pass the Innocents without receiving them." This put Du Rivau 
on his mettle. He kept his appointment, galloped back twenty 
leagues by night, arrived at tlie lady's house at dawn on Innogents' 

•^92 THE HEPTAMERON OF THB: [N<n'el i,s 

great charity to give them to that lazy jade of yours, but 
it would not do for her to receive them from your hand, 
for it is too weak, and your heart is too tender. If I 
were to put my hand to the job, we should be bet- 
ter served by her than we are." The poor woman, sus- 
pecting nothing, begged that he would perform the op- 
eration, confessing that she had neither the heart nor 
the strength to do it. The husband willingly undertook 
the commission, and as if he intended to flog the wench 
soundly, he bought the finest rods he could procure ; and 
to show that he had no mind to spare her, he steeped 
them in pickle, so that the poor woman felt more com- 
passion for her servant than suspicion of her husband. 
Innocents' Day being come, the upholsterer rose be- 
times, went to the upper room, where the servant lay 
alone, and gave her the Innocents in a very different 
manner from that he talked of to his wife. The servant 
fell a-crying, but her tears were of no avail. For fear, 
however, that his wife should come up, he began to whip 

Day, surprised her in bed, and used the privilege of the .season. 
" Vous savez," says the author of the Escraignes {VeiUees) Dijon- 
naises, " que Ton a k Dijon cette peute coutume de fouetter les 
filles le jour des Innocens, la quelle est entretenue par les braves 
amoureux, pour avoir occasion de donner quelque chose aux 
estrennes k leurs amoureuses." Clement Marot has the following 
epigram on this subject ; 

" Tr^s chere soeur, si je savois ou couche 
Votre personne au jour des Innocents, 
De bon matin j'irois en votre couche 
Veoir ce gent corps que j'aime entre cinq cents. 
Adonc ma main (veu I'ardeur que je sens^ 
Ne se pourroit bonnement contenter 
De vous toucher, tenir, taster, tenter: 
Et si quelquun survenoit d'aventure, 
Semblant ferois de vous innocenter, 
Seroit-co pas honneste couverture ? " 

Ftfth day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARKE. ^g^ 

the bedpost at such a rate that he made the rods fly in 
pieces, and then he carried them broken as they were to 
his wife. " I think, my dear," said he, showing them to 
her, " that your servant will not soon forget the Inno- 

The upholsterer having gone out of doors, the servant 
went and threw herself at her mistress's feet, and com- 
plained that her husband had behaved to her in the most 
shameful way that ever a servant was treated. The 
good woman, imagining that she spoke of the flogging 
she had received, interrupted her, and said, " My hus- 
band has done well, and just as I have been begging him 
to do this month and more. If he has made you smart 
I am very glad of it. You may lay it all to me. He 
has not given you half as much as he ought." 

When the girl perceived that her mistress approved 
of such an act. she concluded that it was not such a great 
sin as she had supposed, seemg that a woman who was 
considered so virtuous was the cause of it ; and so she 
never ventured to complain of it again. The upholsterer, 
seeing that his wife was as glad to be deceived as he was 
to deceive her, resolved frequently to give her the same 
satisfaction, and gained the servant's consent so well 
that she cried no more for getting the Innocents. He 
continued the same course for a long time without his 
v/ife's knowing anything of the matter, until winter 
came, and there was a great fall of snow. As he bad 
given his servant the Innocents in the garden on the 
green grass, he took a fancy to give them to her also on 
the snow ; and one morning, before anyone was awake, 
he took her out into the garden in her shift, to make the 
crucifix on the snow. They romped and pelted each 
other, and among the sport that of the Innocents was 
pot forgotten. One of the neighbours, meanwhile, had 


gone to her window to see what sort of weather it was. 
The window looked right over the upholsterer's garden, 
and the woman saw the game of the Innocents that was 
going on there, and was so shocked that she resolved to 
inform her good gossip, that she might no longer be the 
dupe of such a wicked husband and vicious servant. 
After the upholsterer had finished his fine game, he 
looked round to see if he had been noticed by anyone, 
and to his great vexation he saw his neighbour at her 
window. But as he knew how to give all sorts of colours 
to his tapestry, so he thought he should be able to put 
such a colour on this fact that his neighbour would be 
no less deceived than his wife. No sooner had he got 
to bed again than he made his wife get up in her shift, 
and took her to the very spot where he had been toying 
with the servant. He frolicked awhile with her at snow- 
ball throwing, as he had done with the servant ; next he 
gave her the Innocents as he had done to the other ; and 
then they went back to bed. 

The next time the upholsterer's wife went to mass, 
her neighbour and good friend failed not to meet her 
there, and entreated her, with very great earnestness, 
but without saying more, to discharge her servant, who 
was a good-for-nothing, dangerous creature. The up- 
holsterer's wife said she would do no such thing, un- 
less the other told her why she thought the wench so 
good-for-nothing and dangerous. The neighbour, thus 
pressed, stated at last that she had seen her one morn- 
ing in the garden with her husband. 

" It was I, gossip dearie," replied the good woman, 

" What ! " cried the neighbour. " Stripped to youf 
shift in the garden at four o'clock in the morning! " 

Fifth day.\ QUEEN OF NA FAR RE. 395 

" Yes, gossip," said the upholsterer's wife. " In good 
sooth, it was myself." 

" They pelted each with snow," continued the neigh, 
hour, " and he played with her teaties and all that sort 
of thing as familiarly as you please." 

" Yes, gossip, it was myself." 

"But, gossip," rejoined the neighbour, "I saw them 
do upon the snow a thing that seems to me neither 
decent nor proper." 

" That may be, gossip dearie," replied the uphol- 
sterer's wife ; " but as I told you before and tell you 
again, it was myself and no one else that did all this ; 
for my good husband and I divert ourselves in that way 
together. Don't be shocked, pray. You know that we 
are bound to please our husbands," 

The end of the matter was that the neighbour went 
home much more disposed to wish that she had such a 
husband than to pity her good friend. When the uphol- 
sterer came home, his wife repeated to him the whole 
conversation she had had with her neighbour. " It is 
well for you, my dear," he replied, "that you are a good 
and sensible woman ; but for that we should have been 
separated long ago. But I trust that by God's grace we 
shall love each other in time to come as much as we 
have in the past, and that to His glory, and to our own 
comfort and satisfaction." 

" Amen, my dear," said the good woman. " I hope, 
too, that you will never find me fail to do my part to- 
wards maintaining the good understanding between us.* 

* Dunlop thinks that this novel was probably taken from the 
fabliau of some Trouveur, who had obtained it from the East, as it 
corresponds with the story of the Shopkeeper's Wife in Nakshebi's 
Persian tales, known bv the name of Tooti Nameh, or Tales of a 
Parrot. The Queen of Navarre's version of the story has beeq 


One must be very incredulous, ladies, if, after hearing 
so true a story, one were of opinion that there was as 
much wickedness in you as in men ; though, to say the 
truth, without wronging anyone, one cannot help coming 
to the conclusion with regard to tlie man and woman in 
question, that neither the one nor the other was good 
for anything. 1 

" This man was prodigiously wicked," said Parla- 
mente ; " for on the one hand he deceived his wife, and 
on the other his servant." 

" You cannot have rightly understood the story," 
said Hircan; "for it states that he satisfied them both 
in one morning : a great feat, considering the contrariety 
of their interests." 

" In that respect, he was doubly a knave," replied 
Parlamente, " to satisfy the simplicity of the one by a 
lie, and the malice of the other by an act of vice. But 
I am quite aware that such as these will always be par- 
doned when they have such judges as you." 

" I assure you, however," rejoined Hircan, " that I 
will never undertake anything so great or so difficult, 
for provided I satisfy you, my day will not have been ill 

" If mutual love does not content the heart," returned 
Parlamente, "all the rest cannot do so." 

" That is true," said Simontault. " I am persuaded 

imitated by Lafontaine, under the title of La Servante Justifi^e. 
He was particularly struck by an exceedingly comic reiteration of 
the phrase, ' It was I, gossip," in the dialogue between the 
sfmple-witted wife and her neighbour, and says in his opening 
lines : 

" Pour cetts fois, la Reine de Navarre 
D'un c'etoit moi naif autant que rare, 
Entretiendra dans ces vers le lectear.'' 

Fifth day.] QUEEN- OF NA VARRE. 397 

there is no greater pain than to love and not to be 

'• In order to be loved," said Parlamente, " one should 
turn to those who love ; but very often those women 
who will not love are the most loved, and those men love 
most who are the least loved." 

" That reminds me," said Oisille, " of a tale which I 
had not intended to introduce among good ones." 

" Pray tell it us," said Simontault. 

" I will do so with pleasure," replied Oisille. 


A sanctimonious Cordelier attempts to debauch the wife of a judge, 
and actually ravishes ayoung lady, whose mother had foolishly 
authorized him to chastise her for 1} ing too late in bed. 

In Angouleme, where Count Charles, father of King 
Francis, often resided, there was a Cordelier named De 
Vale, who was esteemed a learned man and a great 
preacher. One Advent he preached in the town before 
the count, and was so admired that those who knew him 
eagerly invited him to dinner. Among these was the 
Judge of Exempts of the county, who had married a 
handsome and virtuous wife, of whom the Cordelier was 
dying for love, though he had not the boldness to tell 
her so ; she, however, perceived it, and held him and his 
passion in disdain. One day he observed her going up 
to the garret all alone, and thinking to surprise her, he 
went up after her : but on hearing his steps she turned 
round, and asked him whither he was going. " I am 


coming after you," he replied. " I have a secret to tell 


" Don't come after me, good father," said the judge's 
wife, " for I do not choose to talk with such as you in 
secret, and if you come another step higher you shall 
repent of it." 

The friar, seeing her alone, took no heed of her words, 
and ran up ; but she, being a woman of spirit, as soon 
as he was at the top gave him a kick in the belly, saying, 
" Down, down, sir," and sent him rolling from the top to 
the bottom. The poor friar was so much ashamed of his 
discomfiture that he forgot his hurt, and ran out of the 
town as fast as he could, for he was sure she would not 
conceal the matter from her husband. No more she did, 
nor from the count and countess, so that the Cordelier 
durst not appear again in their presence. 

To complete his wickedness, he went away to the 
house of a lady who loved the Cordeliers above all other 
folk ; and after he had preached a sermon or two before 
her, he cast eyes upon her daughter, who was very hand- 
some ; and because she did not rise in the morning to 
go and hear his sermon, he often scolded her before her 
mother, who used to say, " I wish to God, father, she had 
tasted a little of the discipline which you and your pious 
brethren administer to each other." The good father 
vowed he would give her some of it if she continued to 
be so lazy, and the mother begged he would do so. A 
day or two after, the good father entered the lady's room, 
and not seeing her daughter, asked where she was. " She 
fears you so little that she is still in bed," replied the 

" Assuredly it is a very bad habit in young people to 
be so lazy," replied the friar. " Few people make much 
account of the sin of laziness ; but for my part I esteem 

T'ifth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 300 

it one of the most dangerous of all, both for the body 
and the soul ; wherefore you should chastise her well for 
it , or, if you will leave the business to me, I warrant I 
will cure her of lying in bed at an hour when she should 
be at her devotions." 

The poor lady, believing that he was a good man, 
begged he would be pleased to correct her daughter, 
which he proceeded to do forthwith. Going up a little 
wooden staircase, he found the girl all alone in bed, fast 
asleep, and sleeping as she was, he ravished her. The 
poor girl, waking up, knew not whether it was a man or 
a devil, and began to scream as loud as she could, and 
cry for help to her mother, who called out, from the foot 
of the stairs, " Do not spare her, sir ; give it her again, 
and chastise the naughty hussey." When the Cordelier 
had accomplished his wicked purpose he went down to 
the lady, and said to her, with his face all on fire, " I 
think, madam, your daughter will not forget the discipline 
I have given her." 

After thanking him heartily, the mother went up to 
her daughter, who was making such lamentation as a 
virtuous woman well might who had been the victim of 
such a crime ; and when she had learned the truth, she 
sent everywhere to look for the Cordelier, but he was 
already far away, and never afterwards was he found in 
the realm of France. 

You see, ladies, what comes of giving such comimis- 
sions to persons who are not fit to be trusted with them. 
The correction of men belongs to men, and of women to 
women ; for in correcting men, women would be as piti- 
ful as men would be cruel in correcting women. 

" Jesus ! madam," said Parlamente, " what a wicked 
villain of a Cordeher ! " 

400 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [Ncrv^^l 46 

"Say rather," said Hircan, "what a silly fool of a 
mother, who, cajoled by hypocrisy, allowed so much fa- 
miliarity to one of a class of men who ought never to be 
seen but in church." 

" Truly," said Parlamente, " I own she was one of 
the silliest mothers that ever was ; and if she had been 
as wise as the judge's wife, she would rather have made 
him go down the stairs than up them. But your half- 
angel devil is the most dangerous of all, and knows so 
well how to transform himself into an angel of light that 
one makes it matter of conscience to suspect him for 
what he is ; and it seems to me that the person who is 
not suspicious deserves praise." 

" Nevertheless," said Oisille, " one ought to suspect 
the evil that is to be avoided ; especially so should those 
who have charge of others ; for it is better to suspect 
mischief where it does not exist, than to fall through 
foolishly believing in the harmlessness of that which 
does exist. I have never seen a woman deceived for 
being slow to believe the word of men, but many a one 
for having too readily put faith in lies. Therefore I say 
that the mischief which may happen cannot be too much 
suspected by those who have charge of men, women, 
towns, and states ; for in spite of the best watch, wicked- 
ness and treachery greatly prevail, and the shepherd 
who is not vigilant will always suffer from the wiles of 
the wolf." 

" Nevertheless," said Dagoucin, " a suspicious person 
cannot maintain a perfect friendship, and many friends 
have been parted by a suspicion." 

" Supposing that you know a case in point," said 
Oisille, " I call upon you to relate it." 

" I know one so true that you will take pleasure in 
hearing it," replied Dagoucin. " I will tell you what is 

Fifth day \ Q UEEN OF NA VA RRE. 40 1 

most sure to break friendship, ladies, and that is, when 
the very confidence of the friendship begins to give occa- 
sion for suspicion ; for as trusting a friend is the greatest 
honour one can do him, so doubting him is the greatest 
dishonour, for it shows that he is thought other than 
one would have him be, which is the cause of breaking 
many friendships and turning friends into enemies, as 
you will see by the tale I am about to relate to you," 

[This novel is wanting in the edition of 1558, and the following 
is substituted for it in that of 1559.] 

A Cordelier's sermoBs on the subject of husbands beating their 


In Angouleme, where Count Charles, father of King 
Francis I., often made his residence, there was a Cor- 
delier named De Valles, a man of knowledge, and so 
esteemed as a preacher that he was selected to preach 
the Advent sermons before the count, a fact which still 
further enhanced his reputation. It happened during 
Advent that a young scatterbrain of the town, who had 
married a young and very pretty woman, continued to run 
after other women right and left, just as dissolutely as 
though he were unmarried. The young wife, discovering 
this, could not conceal her resentment, and was often paid 
for it sooner and otherwise than she would have liked. 
All this did not hinder her from continuing her lamenta- 
tions, and sometimes even from proceeding to abuse and 
railing, by which conduct she so exasperated her husband 
that he beat her black and blue, and then she made more 
noise than ever. The neighbours' wives, who knew the 


402 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [/Vov^l 46. 

cause of their quarrels, could not keep silence, but cried 
out publicly in the street, " Fie for shame ! To the 
devil with such husbands ! " 

By good luck the Cordelier de Valles was passing 
that way. Having heard the noise, and learned the 
cause of it, he resolved to touch upon it next day in his 
sermon ; and so he did, bringing in the subject of mar- 
riage, and the affections which ought to accompany it. 
He pronounced a eulogy on the wedded state, strongly 
censured those who violated its duties, and instituted a 
comparison between conjugal and parental love. Among 
other things, he said that a husband was more to be 
condemned for beating his wife than for beating his 
father or mother; " For," said he, " if you beat your 
father or mother, you will be sent for penance to Rome ; 
but if you beat your wife, she and her female neighbours 
will send you to all the devils, that is to say, to hell. 
Now just see the difference there is between these two 
penances. One usually comes back from Rome ; but 
from hell there is no returning. Nulla est redcinptio." 

Subsequently he was informed that the women took 
advantage of what he had said, and that their husbands 
could no longer be masters : and this mischief he desired 
to remedy, as he had that under which the women had 
laboured. To this end, in another sermon he compared 
women to devils, and said that the two were man's 
greatest enemies and perpetual persecutors, which he 
could not get rid of, especially women. " In fact," said 
he, " the devils fly when they are shown the cross, and 
women do quite the contrary, for it is that which tames 
them, makes them go and come, and is the cause of their 
putting their husbands into no end of passions. Would 
you know, my good people," said he to the husbands, 
•• the way this is to be remedied .-* Here it is. When 

F^fth day\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 403 

you see that your wives torment you incessantly, as is 
their wont, take the handle of the cross, and thrash them 
well with it. You will not have done this above three 
or four times before you will find yourselves the better 
for it, and will see that as the devil is driven away by 
the cross, so you will drive your wives away, and make 
them hold their tongues, by virtue of the handle of the 
same cross, provided it be not attached." 

There, ladies, is a sample of the sermons of the ven- 
erable Cordelier de Valles, of whose life I will tell you 
no more, and for good reason. I will only say that for 
all he put a good face on the matter, for I knew the 
man, he was much more for the women than the 

" He gave a very bad proof of that in this last ser- 
mon of his," said Parlamente, " since he instructed the 
men to maltreat them." 

" You do not discern his cunning," said Hircan. 
"As you have not much experience of war, you cannot 
be acquainted with the stratagems that are necessary in 
it, one of the greatest of which is to create division in 
the enemy's camp ; for then he is more easily beaten. 
Just so Master Monk knew that aversion and anger be- 
tween husband and wife often occasion a loose rein 
to be given to female honour. As virtue is the guard of 
that honour, it finds itself under the fangs of the wolf 
before it is aware that it is gone astray." 

" Be that as it may," said Parlamente, " I could never 
love a man who had sown discord between my husband 
and me to the extent of coming to blows ; for with beat- 
ing there is an end to love. Yet they can be so very 
demure, as I have heard, when they want to cajole some 
woman or another, and talk in so engaging a manner, 

4o4 ^HE HEPTAMERON OF THE \JVovel 46. 

that I am sure there would be more danger in Hstening 
to them in secret than in publicly receiving blows from 
a husband who in other respects was a good one." 

" In truth," said Dagoucin, " they have made them- 
selves so notorious that one has good cause to fear them, 
though, in my opinion, it is a laudable thing not to be 

" One ought, however, to suspect the evil that may 
be avoided," said Oisille, " and it is better to fear an 
imaginary ill than to fall into a real one for want of be- 
lief. For my part, I have never known a woman to 
have been beguiled for having been slow to believe 
men ; but I have known many a one who has been be- 
guiled for too. easily believing their falsehoods. Conse- 
quently I maintain that those who have charge of men, 
women, towns, and states can never too much fear and 
suspect the evil that may happen. Wickedness and 
treachery are so much in vogue that one cannot be too 
much on one's guard ; and the shepherd who is not vigi- 
lant will always be plundered by the sly and crafty 

" It is nevertheless true," observed Dagoucin, " that a 
distrustful and suspicious person can never be a perfect 
friend ; and many friendships have been broken upon 
a mere suspicion." 

" If you know any example in point, tell it us," said 

" I know one," he replied, " so true, that you will feel 
pleasure in hearing it. I am going to tell you, ladies, of 
what most easily breaks friendship, and that is, when 
the very security of the friendship itself begins to in- 
spire suspicion. As one cannot do a friend a greater 
honour than to trust in him, so likewise one cannot offer 
him a keener insult than to distrust him. The reason 

Fifth day.'l QUEEN OF NA FAR RE. 405 

is, that one thereby shows that one believes him to be 
quite different from what one would have him to be ; 
and this causes a breach between many good friends, 
and makes them enemies, an instance of which you shall 
see in the tale I am about to tell you." 


A gentleman of the Pays du Perche, distrusting his friend, obliges 
him to do him the mischief of which he has falsely suspected 

Near the Pays du Perche there were two gentlemen, 
who from their childhood had been such perfectly good 
friends that they had but one heart, one house, one bed, 
one table, and one purse. Their perfect friendship 
lasted a long while without there having ever been the 
least dispute, or even a word that savoured of it ; for 
they lived, not merely like two brothers, but like one 
man. One of the two married, but this did not diminish 
his affection for the other, or prevent his continuing to 
live with him as happily as before. When they hap- 
pened to be in any place where beds were scarce, he 
made him sleep with his wife and him. It is true that 
he himself lay in the middle. All their goods were in 
common, so that the marriage, whatever might happen, 
never altered this perfect friendship. 

But as there is nothing solid and permanent in this 
world, time brought about a change in the felicity of a 
too happy household. The husband, forgetting the con- 
fidence he had in his friend, became jealous without cause 
of him and his wife, to whom he could not refrain from 

4o6 THE HEPT A ME ROM OF THE [JVtr^e/ 47. 

saying some harsh things, whereat she was the more 
surprised, as he had ordered her to treat his friend in all 
respects, save one, exactly like himself. All this, how- 
ever, did not hinder him from forbidding her to speak to 
him, unless it was in full company. She made known 
this prohibition to her husband's friend, who could not 
believe it, well knowing that he had not done or thought 
anything with which his friend could be displeased. As 
he was accustomed to conceal nothing from him, he told 
him what he had heard, begging him to disguise nothing, 
for it was his earnest desire not to give him, either in 
that or in any other matter, the least cause to break a 
friendship of such long duration. 

The husband assured him he had never harboured 
such a thought, and that those who had spread this re- 
port had foully lied. " I know well," said the friend, 
" that jealousy is a passion as insupportable as love ; and 
though you were jealous, and even of me, I should not 
be angry with you, for you could not help it. But I 
should have reason to complain of a thing which it is in 
your own power to do or not to do, and that is, to 
conceal the matter from me, seeing that you have never 
yet concealed from me any opinion or emotion you have 
known. On my part, if I were in love with your wife, 
you ought not to make it a crime in me, for love is a fire 
which no one can master ; but if I concealed the fact 
from you, and sought means to make it known to your 
wife, I should be the worst man that ever lived. Be- 
sides, though you have a good wife and a worthy, I c^ 
assure you that, even though she were not yours, she is, 
of all the women I have ever seen, the one I should give 
myself the least concern ai)out. I pray you, however, 
if you have the least suspicion, to tell me so, in order to 
take measures accordingly, so that our long friendship 

Fifth day. QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 407 

may not be broken for the sake of a woman ; for even 
if I loved your wife above all the women in the world, I 
would never speak to her in that case, because I prefer 
your friendship to any other." 

The husband protested to him with great oaths that 
he never had such a thought, and begged that he would 
continue with him in all respects upon the old footing. 
" I will do so, since you desire it," replied the friend ; 
" but allow me to tell you that I never will live with you 
if, after this, you have such a thought of me, and keep a 
secret from me, or take it amiss." 

They continued then to live together on the santfe 
terms as before, until, after some time, the husband's 
jealous fit came upon him more strongly than ever, and 
he ordered his wife no longer to show his friend the 
same fair countenance. She immediately informed the 
friend of this, and begged him not to speak to her, as 
she was forbidden to speak to him. The friend, seeing 
from this and from certain grimaces of his comrade that 
he had not kept his word, said to him in great indigna- 
tion, " If you are jealous, my friend, that is a natural 
thing ; but after the oaths you have sworn to me, I 
cannot help telling you that I am aggrieved by your 
having concealed it so long. I had always believed that 
between your heart and mine there was no medium or 
obstacle ; but I see with regret, and without any fault 
of mine, that I have not succeeded so well as I had 
hoped, since not only are you jealous of your wife and 
me, but you furthermore want to make a mystery of it, 
in order that your malady may endure so long that it 
may turn into hatred, and the closest friendship which 
has been seen in our day be succeeded by the most 
mortal enmity. I have done what I could to prevent 
this mischief, but since you believe me to be so wicked, 


and the reverse of all I have ever been, I solemnly vow 
to you that I will be such as you take me to be, and 
that I will never rest until I have had from your wife 
what you imagine I am striving for : and I warn you 
henceforth to be on your guard against me. Since 
suspicion has made you renounce my friendship, resent- 
ment makes me renounce yours." 

The husband tried to make him believe that it was 
all a mistake, but the other would not listen to him. 
The furniture and property they had in common were 
divided, and this division was accompanied by that 
of their hearts, which had always been so united. The 
unmarried gentleman kept his word, and never rested 
until he made his friend a cuckold. 

So be it, ladies, to all those who distrust their wives 
without cause. A woman of honour sooner suffers her- 
self to be overcome by despair than by all the pleasures 
in the world, and many husbands who are unjustly 
jealous behave so that at last they have just cause for 
jealousy, and make their wives do what they suspect 
them of. Some say that jealousy is love : I deny it ; 
for though it issues from love as ashes from fire, just so 
it kills it, just as ashes smother the flame. 

"I am persuaded," said Hircan, "that there is noth- 
ing more irritating to man or woman than to be unjustly 
suspected. For my own part, there is nothing would 
sooner make me break with my friends." 

" Yet it is not a reasonable excuse," said Oisille, " for 
a woman to say she revenges herself for her husband's 
suspicions at the cost of her own shame ; it is doing like 
a man who, not being able to kill his enemy, runs him- 
self through with his own sword, or bites his own fingers 
when he cannot scratch him. She would have acted 

Fifth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARKE. 409 

more wisely in never speaking to the friend, in order to 
show her husband that he was wrong in suspecting her, 
for time would have reconciled them." 

" She acted like a woman of spirit," said Ennasuite ; 
" and if there were many wives like her, their husbands 
would not be so outrageous." 

" After all," said Longarine, "patience finally enables 
a chaste woman to triumph, and by it she should abide." 

" A woman, however, may be sinless, and yet not 
chaste," observed Ennasuite. 

" How do you mean ? " asked Oisille. 

" When she mistakes another for her husband," re- 
plied Ennasuite. 

" And where is the fool," exclaimed Parlamente, 
"who does not know the difference between her husband 
and another man, disguise himse'lf as he may } " 

" There have been, and there will be," rejoined En- 
nasuite, " those who have made such a mistake in perfect 
good faith, and who consequently are not culpable." 

" If you know an instance of the kind, relate it to us," 
said Dagoucin ; " to me it seems that innocence and sin 
are two very incompatible things." 

" Well, ladies," said Ennasuite, " if the stories you 
have already heard have not sufficiently shown you that 
it is dangerous to lodge those who call us mundane, and 
look upon themselves as saints, and as persons much 
more regenerate than we are, here is a tale which will 
convince you not only that they are men like others, 
but that they have in them something diabolical exceed- 
ing the common wickedness of men." 



A Cordelier took the hucband's place on his wedding-night, while 
the latter was dancing with the bridal party. 

A GIRL having been married in a village in Perigord, 
the wedding was celebrated at an inn, where all the re- 
lations and friends made merry with the best cheer. 
Two Cordeliers arrived on the wedding-da), and as it 
was not in accordance with propriety that they should 
be present at the marriage-feast, they had their suppers 
served up to them in their chamber. That one of the 
pair who had the most authority, and also the most vil- 
lany, conceived that since he was not allowed to partake 
with the rest at board he ought to have his share in bed, 
and resolved to show them a trick of his trade. 

When evening came, and the dance was begun, the 
Cordelier gazed long on the bride from the window, and 
found her handsome and much to his taste. He inquired 
of the servant girls which was the bridal-chamber, and 
le irned, to his great satisfaction, that it was close to his 
own ; and then, in order to arrive at his ends, he took 
care to watch well till he saw the old women steal off 
with the bride, as usual on such occasions. As it was 
still early, the husband would not quit the dance, on 
which he was so intent that he seemed to have forgotten 
his bride, which the Cordelier had not done ; for as soon 
as his ears informed him that she had been put to bed, 
he threw off his grey robe, and went and took the bride- 
groom's place. The fear of being surprised did not al- 
low him to remain there long. He rose, therefore, and 
went to the end of the alley, where his companion, whom 

Fifth day :\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 41I 

he had left on the watch, signalled to him that the bride- 
groom was still dancing. The Cordelier, who had not 
satisfied his wicked lust, then went back to the bride, 
and stayed with her until his companion made the sig- 
nal that it was time to go away. 

The bridegroom went to bed, and th« bride, who had 
been so briskly plied by the Cordelier, and wanted nothing 
but rest, could not help saying to her husband, " Have 
you made up your mi .d never to go to sleep, but to 
worry me all night long ? " The poor husband, who had 
but just lain down, asked her in great amazement how he 
had worried her, seeing that he had been dancing all the 
evening. " Fine dancing, indeed," said the poor woman ; 
" this is the third time you have come to bed. You had 
better go to sleep, I think." 

Astounded at these words, the husband insisted on 
knowing the exact truth. After she had related to him 
the whole thing just as it had occurred, he got up in- 
stantly, making no doubt it was the Cordeliers, and went 
to their chamber, which, as before mentioned, was not 
far from his own. Not finding them, he shouted for help 
so loud that all his friends came flocking round him. 
When he had told them the fact, everyone helped him 
with candles, lanterns, and all the dogs in the village to 
hunt for the Cordeliers. Not finding them in the houses, 
they beat the country round, and caught them in the 
vineyards, where they treated them as they deserved ; 
for after having well beaten them, they cut oft their legs 
and arms, and left them among the vines to the care ot 
Bacchus and Venus, of whom they were better disciples 
than ot St. Francis. 

Do not be astonished, ladies, if these people, who are 
distinguished by a manner of living so different from 


ours, do things which adv^enturers would be ashamed to 
do. You may rather wonder that they do not do worse, 
when God withdraws his grace from them. The habit 
does not always make the monk, as the proverb says. It 
often unmakes him, and pride is the cause. 

'• Mon Dieu !" said Oisille, " shall we never have done 
with tales about these monks.''" 

" If ladies, princes, and gentlemen are not spared," 
said Ennasuite, " it strikes me that they have no reason 
to complain if they are not spared either. They are, for 
the most part, so useless, that no one would ever men- 
tion them if they did not commit some rascality worthy 
of memory; which makes good the proverb, that it is 
better to do mischief than to do nothing at all. Be- 
sides, the more diversified our bouquet, the handsomer it 
will be." 

" If you promise not to be angry," said Hircan, " I 
will tell you a story of a great lady so insatiable in love 
that you will excuse the poor Cordelier for having taken 
what he wanted where he found it, the more so as the 
lady of whom I have to speak, having plenty to eat, in- 
dulged her craving for tit-bits in a way that was too bad." 

" Since we have vowed to speak the truth," said 
Oisille, " we have also vowed to hear it. You may then 
speak freely ; for the evil we speak of men and women 
does not injure those who are the heroes of the tale, and 
only serves to cure people of the esteem they have for 
the creatures, and the confidence they might repose in 
them, by showing the faults to which they are subject, 
to the end that we may rest our hopes on none but Him 
who is alone perfect, and without whom every man is 
but imperfection." 

" Well, then," said Hircan, " I will proceed boldly 
with my story." 

Fifth day. ] Q UEEN OF NAVARRE. 4 1 3 


Of a countess who diverted herself adroitly with love sport, and 
how her game was discovered. 

At the court of one of the kings of France, named 
Charles (I will not say which of them, for the honour of 
the lady of whom I am about to speak, and whom I shall 
also abstain from naming), there was a foreign countess 
of v?ry good family. As new things please, this lady at 
once attracted all eyes, both by the novelty of her cos- 
tume, and by its richness and magnificence. Though 
she was not a beauty of the first order, she possessed, 
nevertheless, so much grace, such a lofty deportment, 
and a manner of speaking which inspired so much re- 
spect, that no one ventured to attempt her. except the 
king, who was very much in love with her That he 
might enjoy her society more freely, he gave the count 
her husband a commission which kept him a long time 
away from the court, and during that interval the king 
diverted himself with the countess. 

Several of the king's gentlemen, seeing that their 
master was well treated by the countess, took the liberty 
to speak to her on the subject; among the rest, one 
named Astillon, an enterprising and handsome man. 
At first she answered him with great dignity, and thought 
to frighten him by threatening to complain to the king 
his master, but he, who was not a man to be moved by 
the menaces of an intrepid captain, made light of those 
which the lady held forth, and pressed her so closely 
that she consented to grant him a private interview, and 
even told him what he should do in order to reach her 

414 THE HEPTAMEROiY OF THE [A'ove/ ^g. 

chamber; a lesson which he failed neither to remember 
nor to practise. To prevent any suspicion on the king's 
part, he made a pretence of a journey to obtain leave of 
absence for some days, and actually took his departure 
from the court, but quitted his retinue at the first stage, 
and returned at night to receive the favours which the 
countess had promised him. She fulfilled her promise, 
and he was so satisfied with his reception that he was 
content to remain seven or eight days shut up in a garde- 
robe, living on nothing but aphrodisiacs. 

During the time he was thus confined, one of his 
comrades, named Duracier, came to make love to the 
countess. She went through the same ceremonies with 
this second wooer as with the first ; spoke to him at 
first sternly and haughtily, softened to him only by de- 
grees ; and on the day she let the first prisoner go, she 
put the second into his place. Whilst he was there a 
third came, named Valbenon, and had the same treat, 
ment as his two predecessors. After these three came 
two or three others, who also had part in that sweet cap- 
tivity ; and so it went on for a long while, the intrigue 
being so nicely conducted that not one of the whole 
number knew anything of the adventures of the rest. 
They heard plenty of talk, indeed, of the passion of 
every one of them for the countess, but there was not 
one of them but believed himself to be the only 
favoured lover, and laughed in his sleeve at his disap- 
pointed rivals. 

One day, all these gentlemen being met together at 
an entertainment, at which they made very good cheer, 
they began to talk about their adventures, and the 
prisons in which they had been during the wars, Val- 
benon, who was not the man to keep a secret which 
flattered his vanity, said to the others, " I know in what 

He returned at night to meet the Counters. 

Photographed from Life. 
Copyright, 1902, by D. Trenor. 

Fifth day \ QVEEN OF NAVA RRE. 4I5 

prisons you have been ; but as for me, I have been in 
one for sake of which I will speak well of prisons in 
general as long as I live, for I don't believe there is a 
pleasure in the world equal to that of being a prisoner." 

Astillon. who had been the first prisoner, at once 
suspected what prison he meant. " Under what gaoler," 
he asked, " were you so well treated, that you were so 
fond of your prison ? " 

" Be the gaoler who he may," replied Valbenon, " the 
prison was so agreeable that I was very loth to leave it 
so soon, for I never was better treated or more com 
fortable than there." 

Duracier, who hitherto had said nothing, shrewdly 
suspected that the prison in question was that in which 
he had been confined, as well as the other two. " Tell 
me," said he to Valbenon, " what sort of food did they 
give you in that same prison you praise so highly ? " 

" Food ? The king has not better, or more nutri- 
tive," was the reply. 

" But I should like to know, too," returned Duracier, 
" did not the person who kept you prisoner make you 
earn your bread .<*" 

" Hah ! ventrebleu ! " cried Valbenon, who saw that 
the mark was hit. " Have I had comrades t I thought 
myself the only one." 

" Well," said Astillon, laughing, " we are all com- 
panions and friends from our youth, and all serve the 
same master. If we all share alike in the same bonne 
fortune, we may well laugh in company. But in order 
to know if what I imagine is true, pray let me interro- 
gate you, and all of you tell me the truth. If what I 
suppose has happened to us, it is the oddest and most 
amusing adventure that ever could be imagined." 

All swore they would speak the truth, at least if 

41 6 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \N(wel i,<^ 

matters were so that they could not help doing so. " I 
will relate my adventure to you," said Astillon, " and you 
will each answer me yes or no, if yours is like it or not." 

Everyone having agreed to this, " In the first place," 
said Astillon, " I asked leave of absence of the king, 
under pretence of a journey." 

" So did we," said the others, 

" When I was two leagues from the court, I left my 
retinue, and went and surrendered myself a prisoner." 

" And so did we." 

" I remained for seven or eight days hid m a garde- 
robe, where I was fed upon nothing but restoratives, and 
the best viands I ever tasted. At the end of eight days 
my keepers let me go, much weaker than I had come." 

They all swore that they had been served just the 
same way. 

" My imprisonment ended such a day," continued 

" Mine began the very day yours ended," said Dura 
cier, " and lasted until such a day." 

Valbenon now lost patience, and began to swear. 
"By the Lord," said he, " I find 1 was the third, though 
I thought myself the first and the only one, for I entered 
such a day, and left such another." 

The other three who were at table swore that they 
had entered and departed successively in the same order. 

" Since that is the case," said Astillon, " I will de- 
scribe our gaoler. She is married, and her husband is 

" The very same," said all the others. 

" As I was the first enrolled," continued Astillon, 
" I will be the first to name her, for our common relief. 
She is the countess, who was so haughty that in winning 
her I thought I had done as great a feat as if I had van- 


Fifth cfay.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 417 

quished Czesar. To the devil with the slut, that made 
us toil so hard, and deem ourselves so fortunate in hav- 
ing won her. There never was a more infernal woman. 
Whilst she had one of us caged she was trapping an 
other, so that the place might never be vacant. I would 
die rather than not have my revenge." 

They all asked Duracier what he thought of the 
matter, and in what manner she ought to be punished ; 
adding that they were ready to put their hands to the 

" It strikes me," said he, " that we ought to tell the 
facts to the king our master, who esteems her as a god- 

" We will not do that," said Astillon ; " we can re- 
venge ourselves very well without our master's aid. Let 
us wait for her to-morrow when she goes to mass, every 
man with an iron chain round his neck, and when she 
enters the church, we will salute her as is fitting." 

This suggestion was unanimously approved. Every- 
one provided himself with a chain, and next morning, 
dressed all in black, with their chains round their necks, 
they presented themselves to the countess as she was 
going to church. When she saw them in that trim she 
burst out laughing, and said to them, " Whither go these 
people that look in such doleful plight ?" 

" As your poor captive slaves, madam," said Astillon. 
" v/e are come to do you service." 

" You are not my captives," she replied, "and I know 
no reason why you should be bound more than others to 
do me service." 

Valbenon then advanced. " We have so long eaten 

your bread, madam," he said, " that we should be very 

ungrateful not to do you service." 

She pretended not to have the least idea of what ho 


4i8 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE [Navel i^c^. 

meant, and preserv^ed an unruffled air, thinking thereby 
to disconcert them ; but they played their parts so well 
that she could not but be aware that the thing was dis- 
covered. Nevertheless, she quite baffled them ; for, as 
she had lost honour and conscience, she did not take to 
herself the shame they sought to i)ut upon her ; but as 
one who preferred her pleasure to all the honour in the 
world, she showed them no worse a countenance for 
what they had done, and carried her head as high as 
ever, whereat they were so astounded that they felt 
themselves as much ashamed as they had meant to make 

If you do not think, ladies, that this tale sufficiently 
shows that women are as bad as men, I will tell you 
others. It strikes me, however, that this one is enough 
to show you that a woman who has lost shame does evil 
a thousand times more audaciously than a man. 

There was not a lady in the company who, on hear- 

* " The adventure related by Margaret in this novel is one of 
the most piqjiant in the whole Heptameron. It would be very 
interesting to know the real names of the persons concerned. 
Brantome has not disclosed them ; he only says : ' I knew a very 
great lady, a widow. * * * * Although she was in a manner 
adored by a very great person, yet she could not do without some 
other lovers in private, that she might not lose any time, or remain 
idle. I refer to that lady in the Cent Nouvelles of the Queen of 
Navarre who had three lovers at once, and was so clever that she 
managed to entertain them all three very affably.' — (Dame Galanies, 
Discours iv.) As for the principal hero, the name of Hastillon, by 
which he is designated, warrants us in making a conjecture. May 
he not have been Jacques de Chastillon, chamberlain of Charles 
VIII. and Louis XII., and lieutenant of the hundred gentlemen of 
Charles VIII., who was killed at the siege of Ravenna in 1512.? 
Brantome has devoted to him the nineteenth Discours of his work 
on Les Capitaine Francais." — Bibliophiles Francais, 

Fifth day\ Q VEEN OF NA VA RRE. 4 1 g 

ing this story, did not make so many signs of the cross, 
that one would have thought she saw all the devils in 

" Let us humble ourselves, mesdames," said Oisille, 
" at the contemplation of such horrible conduct, the 
more so as the person abandoned by God becomes like 
him with whom she unites. As those who attach them- 
selves to God are animated by his spirit, so those who 
follow the devil are urged by the spirit of the devil ; 
and nothing can be more brutified than those whom 
God abandons." 

" Whatever this poor lady did," said Ennasuite, " I 
cannot applaud those who boasted of their prison." 

"It is my belief," said Longarine, "that a man finds 
it as hard to keep his good fortune secret as to pursue 
it. There is no hunter who does not take pleasure in 
blowing his horn over his quarry, or lover who is not 
very glad to proclaim the glory of his victory." 

"That is an opinion," said Simontault, "which I will 
maintain to be heretical before all the inquisitors in the 
world : for I lay it down as a fact that there are more 
men than women who keep a secret. I know, indeed, 
that some might be found who would rather not be so 
well treated than that anyone in the world should know 
of it. Thence it is that the Church, as a good mother, 
has appointed priests and not women for confessors, for 
women can conceal nothing." 

" That is not the reason," replied Oisille, " but be- 
cause women have such a hatred of vice that they would 
not give absolution so easily as men, and would impose 
too severe penances." 

" If they were as austere in imposing penance as 
they are in responding," said Dagoucin, " they v^ould 
render more sinners desperate than they would save.. 

420 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE {Novel i,(). 

The Church, therefore, has ordained wisely in all ages. 
I do not pretend, for all that, to excuse the gentlemen 
who boasted of their prison ; for it never was to a man's 
honour to tell ugly tales of a woman." 

" Nay," said Geburon, " for the sake of their own 
honour even they should never have avowed the fact. 
The books of the Round Table inform us that it is not 
glorious for a knight to vanquish another who has no 

" I am surprised the poor woman did not die of 
shame in the presence of her prisoners,"- said Lon- 

" Those who have lost shame can hardly ever re- 
cover it," said Oisille, " unless they have lost it through 
deep love. Of such lost ones I have seen many come 

" I suspect you have seen them come back as they 
came," said Hircan, " for deep love is very rare in 

" I am not of your opinion," said Longarine, " for 
some I know have loved to death." 

" I am so curious to hear a story of one such 
woman," said Hircan, " that my voice is for you. I shall 
be very glad to find in women a love of which I have 
always deemed them incapable." 

"You will believe it when you have heard the story," 
said Longarine, " and you will be convinced that there 
is no stronger passion than love. As it makes one un- 
dertake things almost impossible, with a view to obtain 
some pleasure in this life, so does it above all other pas- 
sions undermine the existence of him or her who loses 
the hope of succeeding, as you shall see from what I 
am going to relate." 

Fifth day.] QUEEN OF NjiVARRE. 421 


A lover, after a blood-letting, receives favour from his mistress, 
dies in consequence, and is followed by the fair one, who 
sinks under her grief. 

Less than a year ago there was in Cremona a gen- 
tleman named Messire Jean Pierre, who had long loved 
a lady in his neighbourhood ; but for all he could do he 
had never been able to obtain from her the response he 
longed for, though she loved him with all her heart. 
The poor gentleman was so distressed at this that he 
secluded himself at hoine, resolving to abandon a vain 
pursuit in which he was wasting his life. Thinking to 
detach himself from his cruel fair one, he remained 
some days without seeing her, and fell into such a pro- 
found melancholy that no one would have known him, 
so altered were his looks. His relations sent for physi- 
cians, who, seeing his face yellow, thought it was an 
obstruction of the liver, and bled him. The lady who 
had been so coy, knowing very well that his illness was 
nothmg but grief that she had not responded to his love, 
sent a trusty old woman with orders to tell hiin that, as 
she could no longer doubt that his love was genuine and 
sincere, she had made up her mind to grant him what 
she had so long refused ; and to that end she had con- 
trived means to leave home and go to a place where he 
might see her without impediment. 

The gentleman, who had been let blood that morn- 
ing from the arm, finding himself more relieved by this 
embassy than by all the remedies of his physicians, sent 
her word that he would not fail to meet her at the ap- 

42 2 THE HEPTAMEKON OF THE \_Noz^d ^q. 

pointed hour, and that she had performed a manifest 
miracle, inasmuch as by a single word she had cured a 
man of a malady for which all the faculty could find no 
remedy. The evening he so longed for being come, he 
went to the trysting-place with a joy so extreme that, as 
it could not augment, it could not of necessity but di- 
minish and come to an end. He had not long to wait 
for her he loved more than his soul ; nor did he waste 
time in making long speeches. The fire that consumed 
him made him rush promptly to the pleasure he prom- 
ised himself, and which he could hardly believe was within 
his reach. Too much intoxicated with love and volup- 
tuous delight, and thinking he had found the remedy 
that would prolong his life, he found that which hastened 
his death ; for heedless of himself in his ardent passion 
for his mistress, he did not perceive that his arm had 
come unbound. The wound opened afresh, and the poor 
gentleman lost so much blood that he was quite bathed 
in it. Believing that the excess he had indulged in was 
the cause of his lassitude, he attempted to return home. 
Then love, which had too much united them, so dealt 
with him that on quitting his mistress his soul at the 
same time quitted his body. He had lost so much blood 
that he fell dead at the lady's feet. 

The awful surprise, and the thought of what she had 
lost in so perfect a lover, of whose death she was the 
sole cause, put her beside herself. Reflecting, besides, 
on the shame that would devolve on her if a dead body 
was found in the house with her, she called to her aid a 
trusty woman-servant, and they carried the body into 
the street. But not choosing to leave it alone, she took 
the sword of the deceased, and being resolved to follow 
bis destiny, and punish her heart, which was the cause 
of her calamity, she pierced herself with the sword, and 

Fifth day:\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 423 

fell dead on her lover's body. That sad spectacle was 
the first thing that met the eyes of her father and mother 
when they came out of their house in the morning. Af- 
ter the lamentations due to so tragic an event, they had 
them both interred together. 

This, ladies, was an extreme disaster, which could 
only be ascribed to a love as extreme. 

"That is what I like to see," said Simontault ; "a 
love so reciprocal that when the one dies the other will 
not survive. Had I, by God's grace, found such a mis- 
tress, I believe that no man would ever have loved more 
perfectly than I." 

" I am sure," said Parlamente, " that love would never 
have so deprived you of your wits but that you would 
have taken care to tie up your arm better. Men no 
longer lose their lives for ladies. That time is gone by." 

" But the time is not gone by," retorted Simontault, 
" when ladies forget their lovers' lives for sake of their 
own pleasure." 

" I do not believe," said Ennasuite, " that there is a 
woman in the world who would take delight in any man's 
death, though he were her enemy ; but if men choose to 
kill themselves, the ladies cannot hinder them." 

" She, however, who refused bread to the poor famish- 
ing man," said Saffredent, "must be regaredd as his 

" If your prayers were as reasonable as those of the 
beggar who asks for bread," said Oisille, " it would be 
too cruel on the part of the ladies to deny your petition. 
But, thank Heaven, this malady kills none but those 
whose time is come." 

" I cannot think, madam," replied Saffredent, " that 
there is any greater need than that one which makes a 


man forget all others. When one loves well, one knows 
no other bread than the glances and the words of the 
beloved being." 

" If you were starved for a while you would tell a 
very different story," said Oisille. 

" I confess," he replied, " that the body might grow 
weak under that discipline, but not the heart and the 
will " 

" That being the case," said Parlamente, " God has 
been very gracious to you in making you fall into the 
hands of women who have given you so little satisfac- 
tion that you must console yourself for it by eating and 
drinking. You take so kindly to that sort of consolation 
that methinks you ought to thank God for that merciful 

" I am so inured to suffering," he replied, " that I be- 
gin to take pleasure in the ills which others bemoan." 

" It may be," said Longarine, " that your lamentations 
exclude you from the company to which you would other- 
wise be welcome, for there is nothing so disagreeable as 
an importunate lover." 

" Or as a cruel lady, you may add," said Simontault. 

" If we were to wait till Simontault had delivered all 
his maxims," said Oisille, " I see that we should come in 
for complines instead of vespers. Let us, then, go and 
thank God that this day has passed without any dispute 
of more consequence." 

She then rose, and was followed by all the rest ; but 
Simontault and Longarine ceased not to dispute, but so 
gently that, without drawing the sword, Simontault gained 
the victory, and proved that there is no greater need than 
a great passion. Thereupon they entered the church 
where the monks were waiting for them. After vespers 
they went to table, and conversed during the repast ; 

Fifth day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 425 

nor did the conversation end with it, but would have 
been prolonged far into the night, if Oisille had not ad- 
vised them to go and refresh their spirits with sleep. 
She added that she was afraid the sixth day would not 
pass off so agreeably as the five others ; for even if they 
should have recourse to invention, it would be impos- 
sible to produce better tales than those which had been 
already told. 

" As long as the world lasts," said Geburon, " there 
will every day be done things worthy of memory. The 
wicked are always wicked, and the good always good : 
and as long as wickedness and goodness reign on earth, 
something new will always be taking place, although 
Solomon says that nothing new happens under the sun. 
As we have not been called to the privy council of God, 
and consequently are ignorant of first causes, all things 
seem new to us, and the more wonderful the less we 
could or would do them. So do not be afraid that the 
days to come will not be as good as the past, and think 
only of doing your own duty well." 

Oisille said she commended herself to God, in whose 
name she bade them good night. And so the whole 
company retired. 



Next morning Madame Oisille, even earlier than 
usual, went to prepare her exhortation in the hall ; but 
the rest of the company being informed of this, their 
desire to hear her good instructions made them dress so 
speedily that she was not kept waiting long. As she 
knew their hearts, she read the epistle of St. John, which 
speaks only of love. This was so palatable to the com- 
pany that, although this morning's devotion was longer 
than usual, they all thought it had not occupied more 
than a quarter of an hour. After it was over they went 
to mass, and commended themselves to the Holy Ghost. 
When they had dined and taken a little rest, they went 
to the meadow to continue their novels. Madame Oisille 
asked who should begin the day. " I call upon you to 
do so, madam," said Longarine, " for you gave us such a 
fine lecture this morning that it is impossible you should 
tell a story which should not correspond to the glory 
you acquired thereby." 

" I regret," replied Oisille, " that I cannot relate 
anything to you so profitable as what you heard this 
morning. What I shall tell you, however, will be con- 
formable to the precepts of the Scriptures, which warn 
us not to put our trust in princes, or in any sons of man, 
who cannot save us. For fear you should forget this 
truth for want of an example, T will give you one that is 
quite true, and so recent that those who beheld the sad 
spectacle have hardly yet dried away their tears." 

iixth day.} QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 42^ 


Perfidy and cruelty of an Italian duke. 

The Duke of Urbino, surnamed the Prefect, who 
married the sister of the first Duke of Mantua, had a 
son about eighteen or twenty years of age, who was in 
love with a girl of good family. Not being free to con- 
verse with her as he wished, in consequence of the cus- 
tom of the country, he had recourse to a gentleman who 
was in his service, and who was in love with a handsome, 
virtuous young damsel in the service of the duchess. 
The cavalier employed this damsel to make known his 
passion to his mistress, and the poor girl took pleasure 
in rendering him service, believing that his intentions 
were good, and that she might with honour take upon 
her to be his ambassadress. But the duke, who looked 
more to the interest of his house than to his son's pure 
affection, was afraid that this correspondence would end 
in marriage ; and he set so many spies on the watch 
that at last he was informed that the girl had meddled 
v/ith carrying letters from his son to her of whom he 
was so passionately enamoured. Burning with rage, he 
resolved to put it out of his power to do so any more ; 
but as he was not sufficiently careful to conceal his re- 
sentment, the girl was warned of it in time She knew 
the prince to be malicious and without conscience, and 
was so terrified that she went to the duchess and implored 
permission to retire until the fit of anger had passed 
away. The duchess told her that before she gave her 


leave she would try to find how her husband took the 
matter. She did so, and found that the duke spoke of 
it with great bitterness, whereupon she not only gave 
her young lady permission, but even advised her to retire 
into a convent until the storm should have blown over ; 
and this she did as secretly as possible. 

The duke, however, missed her, and asked his wife, 
with a countenance of feigned good-humour, where 
the damsel was. The duchess, who supposed that he 
knew the truth, told it him without reserve. He pre- 
tended to be sorry for this, and said there was no need 
for her to do so, that he meant her no harm, and that 
the duchess had better make her come back, for it did 
no good to have a talk made about such matters. The 
duchess told him that if the poor girl had been so unfor- 
tunate as to incur his displeasure, it was better that she 
should abstain from appearing in his presence for some 
time ; but he would not be so put off, but insisted on 
her return. 

The duchess made known the duke's pleasure to the 
damsel ; but the latter was not satisfied, and begged her 
mistress would excuse her from running such a risk, 
knowing as she did that her husband the duke was not 
so ready to grant forgiveness. The duchess, however, 
pledged her life and honour that no harm should happen 
to her ; and the damsel, who felt sure that her mistress 
loved her, and would for no consideration deceive her, 
trusted to her promise, believing that the duke would 
never violate a promise made by his wife on her life and 
honour, and she returned to court. As soon as the duke 
was aware of this, he entered his wife's chamber ; and 
the moment he set eyes upon the poor damsel, he ordered 
his gentlemen to arrest her, and take her to prison. 
The duchess, who had induced her to quit her asylum 

Stxfhday.l QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 429 

upon the faith of her word, was filled with horror, and 
throwing herself at her husband's feet, besought him, 
for his own honour and that of his house, not to do such 
an act. But no supplications she could make, no argu- 
ments she could urge, had power to soften his hard 
heart, or turn him from his stubborn purpose to be re- 
venged. Without answering his wife a word, he abruptly- 
quitted the room, and without form of justice, forgetting 
God and the honour of his house, this cruel duke had 
the poor girl hanged. 

I will not undertake to depict the indignation of the 
duchess ; enough to say that it was such as might have 
been expected of a lady of honour and spirit, who, con- 
trary to her plighted faith, saw a person whom she would 
have saved put to death by her husband. Much less 
will I attempt to portray the affliction of the poor gentle- 
man, the unfortunate girl's lover. He did all he could 
to save his mistress's life, and even offered to die in her 
place ; but nothing could move the duke, who knew no 
other felicity than taking vengeance on those he hated. 
Thus was this poor innocent put to death by this cruel 
duke, against all equity and honour, to the great regret 
of all who knew her. 

Here you see, ladies, what a bad heart is capable of 
when it is united with power. 

" I have heard," said Longarine, " that the Italians 
were prone to all capital vices ; but I could never have 
supposed they would carry vindictiveness and cruelty so 
far as to put a person to such a miserable death for so 
slight a cause." 

" You have mentioned one of the three vices," said 
Saffredent, laughing ; " let us know, Longarine, what are 
the other two." 


" I would do SO willingly," she replied, " if you did 
not know them ; but I am sure you are acquainted with 
them all." 

" You think me, then, very vicious ? " said Saffredent. 

" Not at all," returned Longarine ; "" but I believe 
you know so well the loathsomeness of vice, that you 
can better avoid it than another." 

" Do not be surprised at this excess of cruelty," said 
Simontault, " for they who have been in Italy relate such 
horrible things of the kind, that what we have heard is 
but a trifle in comparison with them." 

"When the French took Rivolte," said Geburon, 
" there was an Italian captain who had the reputation of 
a brave man, and who, seeing a man lie dead who was not 
otherwise his enemy than in having been a Guelph 
whilst he was a Ghibelline, tore out his heart, broiled it, 
ate it greedily, and replied to those who asked him was 
it good, that he had never eaten anything more delicious. 
Not content with this fine deed, he killed the dead man's 
wife, who was pregnant, ripped her open, tore out the 
child, and dashed it to pieces against the wall ; and then 
stuffed the bodies of the husband and wife with oats for 
his horses to eat. Judge if this man would not have put 
to death a girl whom he suspected of having done any- 
thing offensive to him." 

"This duke," said Ennasuite, "was more afraid his 
son should marry one who was not wealthy enough, than 
desirous of giving him a wife to his liking." 

" There is no doubt," said Simontault, " that the ten- 
dency of the Italians is to love more than nature the 
things that are only made for nature's service." 

"Their case is still worse," said Hircan, "for they 
make their God of things that are contrary to nature." 

" Those are the sins I meant," said Longarine ; "for 

A.r/// ,//]'.] QUEEN- OF NA VARRE. 43I 

we know that to love money beyond what is necessary 
for our wants is idolatry." 

Parlamente said that " St. Paul had not forgotten 
their vices, no more than those of such as think themselves 
surpassing in prudence and human reason, on which 
they count so much that they do not render to God the 
honour that is His due. Therefore, the Almighty, jeal- 
ous of His glory, renders more insensate than the brute 
beasts those who think they have more sense than other 
men, and allows them to do acts contrary to nature, 
which shows evidently that their sense is reprobate." 

" That is the third sin," said Longarine, interrupting 
her, *' to which the Italians are addicted." 

" In good sooth, I like this remark," said Nomerfide. 
" Since those who are regarded as having the subtlest 
wits, and are the best speakers, are punished in this 
manner, and brutified more than the brutes themselves, 
It must be concluded that persons who are humble and 
low and of little reach, like myself, are endowed with 
angelic sapience." 

" I assure you, ' said Oisille, " I am not far from your 
way of thinking ; and I am persuaded that there are 
none more ignorant than those who imagine themselves 

" I never knew a mocker who was not mocked," said 
Geburon, " a deceiver who was not deceived, or a proud 
man who was not humbled." 

"You put me in mind of a trick I should like to re- 
late to you if it was seemly," said Simontault. 

" Since we are here to tell the truth, tell it, whatever 
it be," said Oisille. 

■ " Well, since you desire it, madam, I will tell it 
you," he replied. 


432 >^-^^ IIEPTAMERON OF THE {Nai'el t;z. 


A nasty breakfast given to an advocate and a gentleman by an 

apothecary's man. 

In the time of the last Duke Charles there was at 
Alengon an advocate named Antoine Bacheret, a merry 
companion, and fond of breakfasting o' mornings. One 
day, as he was sitting before his door, he saw a gentle- 
man pass whose name was Monsieur de la Tireliere. 
He had come on foot upon business he had in town, and 
the day being cold, he had not forgotten to take with 
him his great robe, lined with foxskin. Seeing the 
advocate, who was much such a man as himself, he asked 
him how he was getting on, and observed that a good 
breakfast would not amiss. The advocate replied that a 
breakfast would be found soon enough, provided some- 
one could be found to pay for it. Thereupon La Tire- 
liere took him by the arm, saying, " Come along, gaffer, 
perhaps we shall fall in with some fool who will pay for 
us both." 

There happened to be behind them an apothecary's 
man, a cunning and inventive young fellow, whom the 
advocate was perpetually making game of. That mo- 
ment the thought of having his revenge came into his 
head, and without going more than ten steps out of his 
way, he found behind a house a fine, big sir reverence, 
well and duly frozen, which he wrapped up so neatly in 
paper that it might be taken for a small sugar-loaf. He 
then looked out for his men, and passing them like a 
person in great haste, entered a house, and let fall the 
sugar-loaf from his sleeve, as if inadvertently. The 

S:x/i dn:] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 433 

advocate picked it up with great glee, and said to La 
Tireliere, " This clever fellow shall pay our scot ; but 
let us be off quickly for fear he comes back." 

The pair having entered a cabaret, the advocate said 
to the servant girl, " Make us a good fire, and give us 
some good bread and good wine, and something nice with 
it ; " for he fancied he had wherewithal to pay. They 
were served to their liking ; but as they grew warm with 
eating and drinking, the sugar-loaf, which the advocate 
carried in his bosom, began to thaw, and gave out such 
a stench that, thinking it came from elsewhere, he said to 
the servant, " You have the most fetid and stinking house 
I ever was in." La Tireliere, who had his share of this 
fine perfume, said the same thing. The servant, incensed 
at thus being accused of sluttishness, replied, " By St. 
Peter, my masters, the house is so neat and clean that there 
is no nastiness in it but what you have brought in with 
you.'' The two friends rose from table, spitting and 
holding their noses, and stood near the fire ; and pres- 
ently, while warming himself, the advocate took his 
handkerchief out of his bosom, disgustingly smeared 
with the syrup of the melted sugar-loaf, which he pro- 
duced with it. You may well believe that the servant 
made fine fun of them after the insult they had offered 
her, and that the advocate was sorely confounded at find- 
ing himself the dupe of an apothecary's man, whom he 
had always made the butt of his wit. The servant, 
instead of taking pity on them, made them pay as hand- 
somely as they had been served ; and said that no doubt 
they must be greatly intoxicated, since they had drunk 
both by nose and mouth. The poor wights slunk away 
with their shame and their cost. 

They were no sooner in the street than they saw the 

apothecary's man going about and asking everyone if 


434 ^■^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE \^'<n'el $2, 

diey had seen a loaf of sugar wrapped up in paper. They 
tried to avoid him, but he shouted to the advocate, 
" Monsieur, if you have my loaf of sugar I beg you will 
give it back to me ; for it is a double sin to rob a poor 
servant." His shouts brought many people to the spot 
out of curiosity to witness the dispute ; and the real 
state of the case was so well verified that the apothecary's 
man was as glad to have been robbed as the others were 
vexed at having committed such a nasty theft. They 
comforted themselves, however, with the hope of one 
day giving him tit for tat. 

The like often happens, ladies, to those who take 
pleasure in such tricks. If the gentleman had not wanted 
to eat at another's expense, he would not have had such 
a nasty draught at his own. It is true that my story is 
not very decorous, but you gave me permission to speak 
the truth. I have done so, to show that when a deceiver 
is deceived no one is sorry for it. 

" It is commonly said that words do not stink," said 
Hircan ; "but those who utter them cannct help smell- 
ing of them." 

" It is true," said Oisille, " that words of this sort do 
not stink; but there are others called dirty, which have 
such a bad odour that the soul suffers from them more 
than the body would suffer from smelling a sugar-loaf 
like that you have spoken of." 

"Do tell me, pray," rejoined Hircan, "what words 
you know so dirty that they make a woman of honour 
suffer both in body and soul." 

" It would be a fine thing," replied Oisille, " if I 
were to say to you words which I would not advise any 
woman to say." 

" I imderstand now what those words are," said Saf- 

Sixth Jay ] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. ^^35 

fredent. " Women like to appear demure, and do not 
commonly use such language. But I should like to ask 
those present why they laugh so readily when they are 
uttered before them, since they will not themselves utter 
them. I cannot understand their laughing at a thing 
which is so offensive to them." 

" It is not at those pretty words we laugh/' said Par- 
lamente, " but by reason of the natural propensity every- 
one feels to laugh either when we see some one fall, or 
when we hear something said out of place, as it often 
happens to the b&st speakers to say one thing instead of 
another. But when men talk filth intentionally, and 
with premeditation, I know no honourable woman but 
feels intense aversion for such people, and, far from lis- 
tening to them, shuns their society." 

" It is true," said Geburon, " that I have seen women 
cross themselves on hearing that sort of words which 
seemed more disgusting the more they were repeated." 

" But," said Simontault, " how often have they put on 
their masks to laugh behind them as heartily as they pre- 
tended to be vexed } " 

" Even that were better than to show that one took 
pleasure in such language," said Parlamente. 

" So, then," remarked Dagoucin, " you praise hypoc- 
risy ill ladies as much as virtue .-•" 

" Virtue would be much better," replied Longarine ; 
" but when it is v/anting we must have recourse to hy- 
pocrisy, as we use high-heeled shoes to hide our little- 
ness. If we can hide our defects, even that is no little 

" By my faith, it would be better sometimes to let 
some little defect appear," said Hircan, " than to hide it 
so carefully under the cloak of virtue." 

" It is true," said Ennasuite, " that a borrowed gar* 

^.(j THE IIEPTAMERO!^ OF riTE [A^<77r/ §3. 

ment dishonours him who is obHged to return it, as much 
as it did him honour to wear it. There is a lady in the 
world whOj in her over-anxiety to hide a small fault, has :j 
committed a much greater one," 

" I think I know whom you mean," said Hircan ; j 
" but at least do not name her." ! 

"Oh ! you have my voice," said Geburon, "on condi- 
tion that when you have told the tale, you will tell us 
the names, which we will swear never to mention." 

" I promise it," said Ennasuite, " for there is noth- 
ing which may not be said decorously." 


Madame de Neufchastel, by her dissimulation, forced the Prince 
of Belhoste to put her to such a proof as turned to her dis- 

On one occasion, when King Francis I. went with 
but a small suite to spend some days at a very hand- 
some chateau, to enjoy the chase and other recreations, 
he was accompanied by the Prince of Belhoste, as much 
distinguished for every excellence of mind and person 
as any at court. He had married a wife who was not of 
a great family, but whom he loved as much as any hus- 
band can love a wife. He put such confidence in her 
that when he loved elsewhere he made no secret of it to 
her, well knowing that she had no other will than his. 
This lord conceived a strong regard for a widow named 
Madame de Neufchastel, who was considered the hand- 
somest woman of her time. If the prince was greatly 

Madame de Neufchastel. 

Photographed from Life. 
Copyright. 1902, by D. Trenor 

Sixth day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 437 

attached to this widow, the princess his wife was no less 
so, often invited her to table, and thought so highly of 
her that, far from being displeased that her husband 
loved her, she was delighted to see that he addressed his 
attentions to so worthy and virtuous an object. This 
friendship was of such long duration, and so perfect, 
that the prince busied himself with Madame de Neuf- 
chastel's affairs as much as with his own, and the prin- 
cess his wife did likewise. 

The widow's beauty attracted round her many great 
lords and gentlemen as suitors, some of whom were ac- 
tuated only by love, others had an eye to her wealth ; 
for, in addition to her beauty, she was very rich, One 
gentleman especially, named the Seigneur des Cheriots, 
was so assiduous in his wooing that he never failed to pre- 
sent himself at her lever 2a\^ her coucher, and spent as much 
time in her society as he possibly could. The prince, who 
thought that a man of such mean birth and appearance 
did not deserve to be treated so favourably, was not at 
all pleased with his assiduities, and often remonstrated 
with the widow on the subject ; but as she was a duke's 
daughter, she excused herself, saying that she talked 
generally to everybody, and that their intimacy would 
be less observed when it was seen that she did not talk 
more to one than to another. After some time, this 
Sieur des Cheriots pressed his suit so much that she prom- 
ised to marry him, more in consequence of his importunity 
than of her preference for him, on condition that he 
would not require her to declare the marriage until her 
daughters were married. After this promise, the gentle- 
man used to go to her chamber without scruple, at any 
hour he pleased ; and there was only a femme-de-cham- 
bre and a man who were privy to the affair. 

The prince was so displeased at seeing the gentle- 

438 TirE IIEPTAMEKO.V OF THE [Nin'el 53. 

man becoming more and more domesticated with her he 
loved, that he could not help saying to her, " I have 
always prized your honour as that of my own sister. 
You know with what propriety I have always addressed 
you, and what pleasure I feel in loving a lady so discreet 
and virtuous as you ; but if I thought that another ob- 
tained by importunity what I would not ask for against 
your inclination, I could not endure it, nor would it do 
you honour. I say this to you because you are young 
and fair,' and have hitherto enjoyed a good reputation ; 
but you are beginning to be the subject of reports greatly 
to your disadvantage. Though this person has neither 
birth, fortune, credit, knowledge, nor good looks in com- 
parison with you, it would have been better, nevertheless, 
that you had married him than have given rise to sus- 
picion, as you are doing. Tell me then, I entreat, if you 
are resolved to love him ; for I dp not choose to have 
him for a companion, but v^ill leave you wholly to him, 
and will no longer entertain for you the sentiments I 
have hitherto cherished-" 

The poor lady, fearing to lose his friendship, began 
to cry, and vowed to him that she would rather die than 
marry the gentleman in question; that he was so impor- 
tunate that she could not hinder his entering her room 
at the hours when everyone else visited her. " I do not 
speak of those hours," said the prince, " for I can visit 
you then as well as he, and everyone sees what you do ; 
but I have been told that he comes to you after you are 
in bed, which I think so bad, that if you continue it 
without declaring that he is your husband, I look upon 
you as the woman most ruined in reputation that ever 

She assured him with all the oaths she could think 
of that she regarded the man neither as husband nor 

Sixlfi Jay.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 439 

lover, but as the most importunate person in the world. 
" Since that is the case," said the prince, " I promise 
that I will rid you of him." 

" What ! " replied the widow, " would you put him to 
death .? " 

"No, no," said the prince; " but I will let him know 
that he must not give occasion in this way for people to 
s^eak ill of ladies in the king's residence, I swear to 
you, by the love I bear you, that if he does not correct 
himself after I have spoken to him, I will correct him in 
such a manner that he shall be an example for others." 

With these words the prince went away, and on leav- 
ing the room he met the Seigneur des Cheriots coming 
thither, and spoke to him to the same purpose, assuring 
him that the first time he found him there at any other 
hour than one in which it was proper for gentlemen to 
visit ladies, he would give him such a fright as he should 
not forget as long as he lived, and would teach him not 
to trifle with a lady whose relations were persons of such 
consequence. The gentleman protested that he had 
never been there except like other visitors ; and that it 
the prince found him transgressing in that respect, he 
would give him leave to do the worst he could. 

Some days afterwards, the gentleman, fancying that 
the prince had forgotten what he had told him, went to 
see the lady in the evening, and stayed very late. The 
prince told his wife that Madame de Neufchastel had a 
severe cold, and the good lady begged him to go see her 
for them both, and apologise for her, as she was pre- 
vented from accompanying him by indispensable busi- 
ness. The prince waited till the king was in bed, and 
then went to say good evening to the widow. He had 
just reached the foot of the staircase, and was about to 
go up, when he met a valet de chambre coming down, 


who swore, in reply to the prince's questions, that his 
mistress was in bed and asleep. The prince retraced 
his steps, but presently, suspecting that the vaiet had 
told a lie, he looked back, and saw the man returning 
hastily. He stopped, therefore, and walked up and 
down the yard before the door to watch if the valet re- 
appeared, and a quarter of an hour afterwards he saw 
him come down, and peer about in all directions to see 
who was in the yard. The prince, entertaining no doubt 
now that Seigneur des Cheriots was with the widow, and 
durst not come out for fear of him, continued his prom- 
enade for a long while. Recollecting that one of the 
lady's chamber windows looked upon a little garden, and 
was not very high, he called to mind the proverb which 
says, " Whoso cannot pass through the door let him jump 
through the window." Me therefore called one of his 
valets, and said, " Go into that garden, and if you see a 
gentleman come down from a window, draw your sword, 
and the moment he is down, make your sword clash 
upon the wall, and shout, ' Kill ! kill ! ' but do not touch 
him." The valet went to where his master ordered him., 
and the prince walked up and down till near midnight. 

The Seigneur des Cheriots, hearing that the prince 
was still in the yard, resolved to escape by the window, 
and throwing his cloak into the garden, he followed it 
with the help of his good friends. The valet no sooner 
espied him than he made a great clatter with his sword, 
and shouted, " Kill him, kill him ! " The poor gentle- 
man, mistaking the valet for the master, was so 
frightened that, without stopping to pick up his cloak, 
he ran off as fast as his legs could carry him, and was 
met by the archers of the watch, who were greatly sur- 
prised to see him running so. He durst not say any- 
thing else to them than to beg earnestly they would 

Sixth day. ] Q UEEN OF NA VARRE. 44 1 

open the gate for him, or take him to their quarters till 
the next day ; which they did, not having the keys. 

Then it was that the prince went to bed. He found 
his wife asleep, woke her, and asked her to guess what 
o'clock it was. 

" I have not heard the clock strike since I came to 
bed," said she. 

" It is past three o'clock," said he. 

" Good Heavens ! monsieur, where have you been 
staying so long ? " exclaimed the wife. " I am afraid 
you will be the worse for it." 

" Watching will never make me ill, my dear," he re- 
plied, "so long as I keep those awake who think to 
deceive me," and so saying he laughed so heartily that 
she begged him to tell her what it was for. He told 
her the whole story, and showed her the wolf's skin, 
which his valet had carried home with him. After they 
had diverted themselves at the expense of the widow 
and her gallant, they went to sleep with as much com- 
posure as the other pair felt fear and uneasiness lest 
their intrigue should be discovered. 

Now the gentleman, reflecting that he could not dis- 
semble before the prince, came to his levee next morn- 
mg, and besought the prince not to expose him, and to 
order his cloak to be restored to him. The prince pre- 
tended not to understand him, and played his part so 
well that the poor gentleman did not know what to 
make of it. But at last he received such a rating as he 
had not expected ; for the prince assured him that if 
ever he was found there again, he would speak to the 
king and have him banished from the court. 

Judge, ladies, I pray you, if this poor widow would 
not have done better to speak frankly to him who did 


her the honour to love and esteem her than by her dis- 
simulation to reduce him to the necessity of seeking 
evidence so dishonouring to herself. 

" She knew," said Geburon, " that if she told him 
the truth she would wholly lose his esteem, which she 
wished to preserve by all means." 

" It strikes me," said Longarine, " that since she 
had chosen a husband to her liking, she had no reason 
to care for losing the love of all her other admirers." 

" I believe," said Parlamente, " that if she had ven- 
tured to declare her marriage she would have contented 
herself with her husband ; but wishing to conceal it until 
her daughters were married, she could not make up her 
mind to let go so good a means of cloaking her real sen- 
timents and conduct." 

"That is not it," said Saffredent ; "but the fact is, 
that the ambition of women is so great that they never 
content themselves with one lover, I have heard that 
the best of them like to have three — one tor honour, 
one for interest, and the third for pleasure; and each of 
the three believes himself the most favoured ; but the 
first two serve the last." 

" You speak of women who know neither love nor 
honour," said Oisille. 

" There are women, madam, of the character I de- 
scribe, whom you regard as the most virtuous women in 
the country," replied Saffredent. 

" Rely upon it," said Hircan, " that a clever woman 
will always contrive to live where others would die of 

" But when their slyness is known their case is 
mortal," said Longarine. 

" Nay, they thrive all the better for it," said Simon- 
tault. " It is no small glory for them to be reputed 

^ixfhday.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 443 

more cunning than their companions. Such a reputa- 
tion brings more lovers under subjection to them than 
does their beauty. In fact, one of the greatest pleasures 
known to lovers is to conduct their amours slyly." 

" You are speaking of criminal love," said Ennasuite • 
" for lawful love has no need of concealment." 

" Put that notion out of your head, I beseech you," 
said Dagoucin, " for the more precious a drug is the less 
it should be exposed to the air. Secrecy is necessary 
whether one loves enviously or the reverse ; and that 
for fear of false judgment on the part of those v^^ho can- 
not believe a man capable of loving a woman honourably. 
Such persons judge others by themselves ; and, as they 
love their pleasure only, they imagine that everyone is 
like themselves. If we were all of good faith, dissimula- 
tion would be needless, at least with regard to those who 
would rather die than harbour a bad thought." 

" I assure you, Dagoucin," said Hircan, " your phi- 
losophy IS so sublime that there is not one person in this 
company who can compass or believe it. To hear you 
talk, one would say you meant to persuade us that men 
are either angels, or stones, or devils." 

" I know well," replied Dagoucin, " that men are 
men, and subject to all the passions ; but I know that 
there are those among them who would rather die than 
for their pleasure the lady they love should do aught 
against her conscience." 

" To say they would rather die is saying a great 
deal," said Geburon. " I could not believe it, though I 
were told it by the most austere monk in the world." 

"I am disposed to believe," said Hircan, "there is 
no one whose desires do not run quite the other way. 
People pretend, however, not to like grapes when they 
are too high for them to reach." 

444 ^^^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE ^Ncrvd 54, 

" But," said Nomerfide, " I suppose the prince's wife 
was very glad that he came to know what women are." 

" I assure you it was quite the reverse," said Enna- 
suite ; " she was very sorry for it, because she loved the 

" She was a match for the woman who laughed when 
her husband kissed her servant," said Saffredent. 

"Decidedly you shall tell us that story," said Enna- 

" It is short," he replied, " but it will make you 
laugh, which is better than being long." 


A lady laughed to see her husband kissing her servant, and being 
asked the reason, repUed that she laughed at her shadow. 

There lived between the Pyrenees and the Alps a 
gentleman named Thogas, who had a wife and children, 
a very fine house, and so much wealth and pleasure that 
he had great reason to be content. The only drawback 
to so many sources of enjoyment was a violent pain 
under the roots of the hair, on account of which the 
physicians advised him to desist from sleeping with his 
wife. To this she readily consented, preferring her 
husband's health and life before all things, and had 
her bed put at the other corner of the room, directly 
opposite her husband's, so that they could neither of 
them put their heads out without seeing each other 
This lady had two chamberwomen. The husband and 
wife used often to read entertaining books in bed, the 
servant women holding the candle, the younger for the 

Sixth day. I QUEEN QE NA VARRE 445 

husband, and the other for the wife. The gentleman, 
finding the servant younger and handsomer than his 
wife, took such pleasure in contemplating her, that he 
used to leave off reading to converse with her. His 
wife heard all, and was not displeased that her valets 
and her handmaids should amuse her husband, being 
sure that he loved none but herself. 

One evening, after reading longer than usual, the 
lady looked along her husband's bed, and saw only the 
back of the servant who was holding the candle to him ; 
whilst of her husband she saw nothing but his shadow, 
projecting on the white wall forming the side of the 
chimney which jutted into the room. She perfectly dis- 
tinguished the faces of both, and saw by their shadows, 
as clearly as she could have seen by the substance of 
each, if they were apart, or met, or laughed. The gen- 
tleman, who was not aware of this, and never supposed 
that his wife could see him, kissed his servant. For 
that time the wife said not a word ; but seeing that the 
shadows often repeated the same movement, she was 
afraid there was reality beneath it, and she burst into 
such a loud laugh that the shadows separated in alarm. 
The gentleman asked her why she laughed so heartily, 
and begged she would let him have part in her merri- 
ment. " I am such a simpleton, my dear," she replied, 
" that I laugh at my shadow." Question her as he 
would, there was no getting any other answer from her. 
There was an end, however, to that shadowy dalliance. 

I have been reminded of this incident by what you 
said of the lady who loved her husband's mistress. 

"In faith," said Ennasuite, "if my servant had 
served me so, I would have got up and smashed the 
candle on her nose." 


'• You are very terrible," said Hircan ; " but it would 
have been a bad business for you if your husband and 
the servant had turned round upon you and beaten 
you soundly. What need to make such a pother about 
a kiss ? The wife would have done still better not to 
say a word, but leave her husband to divert himself. 
That would, perhaps, have cured him," 

•' Perhaps, on the contrary, she feared that the end 
of the diversion would make him worse," said Parla- 

"She was not one of those of whom om Lord speaks,'' 
said Oisille, " when he says, ' We have mourned and you 
have not wept, we have sung and you have not danced,' 
for when her husband was ill she wept, and when he was 
merry she laughed. All good women ought thus to 
share with their husbands good and evil, joy and sorrow, 
and should love, serve, and obey them as the Church 
does Jesus Christ." 

" Our husbands, madam," said Parlamente, " ought 
likewise to behave to us as Jesus Christ does to the 

" And so we do," said Saffredent, " and we would do 
something more if it were possible ; for Jesus Christ 
died only once for his Church, and we die daily for our 

" Die .''" exclaimed Longarine ; "it strikes me that 
you and the rest of you here are worth more crowns 
than you were worth sous before you were married." 

" I know why," said Saffredent. " It is because our 
worth is so often proved. Nevertheless, our shoulders 
feel the effects of having so long worn harness." 

" If you had been constrained," retorted Ennasuite, 
" to wear harness for a month, and to lie on the bare 
ground, you would be very glad to get back to your good 

S/x//i day \ QUEEN OF NA VAKRE 447 

wife's bed and wear the harness of which you now com- 
plain. But they say that people can bear anythyig ex- 
cept ease, and that no one knows the value of repose 
until he has lost it." 

" This good woman, who laughed when her husband 
Avas merry," said Oisille, " was glad to enjoy her repose 
under any circumstances." 

"It IS my belief," said Longarine, "that she loved 
her repose better than her husband, since nothing could 
move her, do what he might." 

"She took to heart what might be injurious to his 
conscience and his health," said Parlamente ; " but at 
the same time she was not a woman to make a fuss 
about trifles." 

" You make me laugh when you talk of conscience," 
said Simontault. "That is a thing about which I would 
never have a woman make herself uneasy." 

"You deserve," said Nomerfide, "to have a wife like 
her who plainly showed, after her husband's death, that 
she cared more for his money than his conscience." 

" Pray tell us that tale," said Saffredent. 

" I had not intended to tell so short a tale," replied 
Nomerfide ; " but since it comes so a propos, you shall 
have it." 


Cunning device of a Spanish widow to defraud the mendicant friars 
of a testamentary bequest made to them by her husband. 

There was at Saragossa a merchant who, feeling his 
end approach, and seeing that he must quit his posse- 
sions, which he had, perhaps, acquired with bad faiih. 


thought to make satisfaction in part for his sins after his 
death by giving some little present to God, as if God 
gave his grace for money. After giving oiders respect- 
ing his house, he desired that a fine Spanish horse, which 
constituted nearly the whole of his wealth, should be 
sold, and the money bestowed on the poor Mendicants ; 
and he chars-ed his wife to do this without fail immedi- 
ately after his death. The burial being over, and the 
first tears shed, the wife, who was no more of a simple- 
ton than Spanish women are in general, said to the man- 
servant, who, like her, had heard her husband deliver his 
last will, " Methinks I lose enough in losing my husband, 
whom I so tenderly loved, without losing also the rest 
of my property. I would by no means, however, contra- 
vene the orders he laid upon me, but would rather im- 
prove upon his intentions. The poor man, beguiled by 
the avarice of the priests, thought to make a sacrifice to 
God, in giving away after his death a sum, one crown of 
which he would not have given in his lifetime, however 
pressing might be the need, as you very well know ; it 
has occurred to me, then, that we will do what he or- 
dered us much better than he could have done it himself 
had he lived a few days longer, but no one in the world 
must know a word about it." 

The man having promised to keep the secret, she 
continued : " You will take the horse to the market, 
and when you are asked the price you will say one ducat. 
But I have a very good cat which I want to sell also. 
You will sell it along with the horse, and charge for it 
ninety-nine ducats, making of the two one hundred 
ducats, which is the price at which my husband wished 
to sell the horse alone." 

The man promptly obeyed his mistress's order. As 
he was walking the horse about in the market-place^ 

Sixth day \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 445 

carrying the cat under his arm, a gentleman who knew 
the horse, and had before wished to buy it, came up and 
asked what he would take for it at a word. " A ducat," 
said the man. 

' I would thank you not to make game of me," said 
the gentleman. 

" I assure you, sir," said the man, " it will cost you 
no more. It is true you must buy this cat at the same 
time, and I want ninety-nine ducats for it." 

The gentleman, who thought it a pretty good bar- 
gain, paid him forthwith a ducat for the horse, and then 
the remainder for the cat, and had his two purchases 
taken home. The man, on his side, went off with the 
money to his mistress, who was delighted to get it, and 
failed not to bestow on the poor Mendicants, according 
to her husband's intentions, the ducat for which the 
horse had been sold, and kept the rest to provide for her 
own wants and those of her family. 

Don't you think she was wiser than her husband, 
and did she not take more care of the fortune of her 
family than of his conscience } 

" I believe she loved her husband," said Parlamente ; 
"but seeing that most men wander in their wits on their 
death-bed, and knowing his intentions, she interpreted 
them to the advantage of her children ; and in this, I 
think, she showed laudable prudence." 

" Do you not think it a great fault," said Geburon, 
" to contravene the last wishes of our deceased friends .■" " 

"A very great one," replied Parlamente, "when the 
testator is in his sound senses, and not raving." 

"Do you call it raving," returned Geburon, "to bC' 

queath one's property to the Church and to the poor 

Mendicants .-* " 


45 o THE HEPTAMERON OF 7 HE [A'oi'e/ 5^. 

" I do not call it raving," she answered, " to give to 
the poor what God has given to us ; but to give awa\' as 
alms what belongs to another appears to me no great 
proof of good sense. How commonly you see the great- 
est usurers in the world erecting the finest and most 
sumptuous chapels, as thinking to make their peace with 
God for a hundred thousand ducats' worth of robbery 
by ten thousand ducats' worth of building, just as though 
God did not know how to count." 

" Truly, I have often wondered," said Oisille, " how 
they think to make their peace with God by means of 
things which he himself reprobated when he himself was 
on earth, such as great buildings, gildings, paintings, and 
decorations. But if they rightly understood what God 
has said, that the only offering he requires of us is a 
humble and contrite heart, and another text in which 
St. Paul says that we are the temple of God in which he 
desires to dwell, they would have taken pains to adorn 
their consciences while they were alive, and not have 
waited for the time when a man can no longer do either 
good or ill ; nor would they have done what is still 
worse, in laying upon those they leave behind the burden 
of giving their alms to those they would not have deigned 
to look upon all through their lives. But He who knows 
the heart cannot be deceived, and will judge them not 
according to their works merely, but according to the 
faith and charity that was in them." 

"Wherefore is it, then," said Geburon, "that these 
Cordeliers and Mendicants talk to us of nothing at death 
but making great bequests to their monasteries, assuring 
us that they will put us into Paradise, whether we will 
or not ? " 

•■ How now, Geburon," said Hircan ; "have you for- 
gotten tne wickedness you have related to us of the 

Sixth ,/./j'.J QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 45 1 

Cordeliers, that you ask how it is possible for such men 
to lie ? I declare to you I do not think there are in the 
world greater lies than theirs. It may be that those 
among them are not to be blamed who speak on behalf 
of their whole community ; but there are many of them 
who forget their vow of poverty to gratify their own 


"It strikes me, Hircan," said Nomerfide, "that you 
know of some such case ; if it is worthy of this company, 
I beg you will tell it us." 

"I will do so," he replied, "although I dislike speak- 
ing of such people, for methinks they are of that class 
of whom Virgil says to Dante, ' Pass on, and heed them 
not.' However, to show you that they have not laid 
aside their passions with their mundane garments, I will 
tell a thing that happened."* 


A pious lady having asked a Cordelier to provide a good husband 
for her daughter, he marries another Cordelier to the young 
lady, and possesses himself of her dowry — the cheat is dis- 
covered and punished. 

A French lady who visited Padua heard that there 
was a Cordelier in the Episcopal prison. Observing 
that everyone talked and joked about him, she inquired 
the reason, and learned that this Cordelier was an old 

* The opinions expressed in this novel and epilogue were too 
bold for the first editors of the Heptameron, Boaistuau and Gruget, 
who altered some passages in the former, and substituted for the 
latter a much shorter epilogue, containing only common-place 
reflections on avarice, &c. 

452 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE {Ncrvel <fy 

man, confessor to a very respectable and devout lady, 
who had been some years a widow, and had but one 
daughter, whom she loved so much that she spared no 
pains to amass wealth for her and procure her a good 
match. As her daughter grew up, her whole thought 
was how to find her a husband who might live happily 
with them both ; that is to say, a conscientious person 
like herself. As she had heard it laid down by some 
stupid preacher that it was better to do wrong by the 
advice of the doctors of the Church than to do right 
trusting in the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, she applied 
to her confessor, an aged monk, who was a doctor of 
theology, and bore a blameless reputation throughout 
the town, never doubting but that she should secure her 
ovvn peace and her daughter's through the advice and 
the prayers of the good father. 

She besought him earnestly to choose a husband for 
her daughter — such a husband as he knew would be suit" 
able to a girl who loved God and her honour. He told 
her he must first of all implore the grace of the Holy 
Spirit by fasting and prayer, and then, God lending him 
light, he hoped he should be able to find what she sought 
Upon that he went away to ponder over the affair. As 
the mother had told him that she had five hundred 
ducats ready to hand over to her daughter's husband, 
and that she would maintain both husband and wife, and 
supply them with lodging, furniture, and clothes, he be- 
thought him of a handsome strapping young brother of 
his order, on whom he would bestow the pretty girl, the 
house, furniture, board, and clothing, while he himself 
would keep the five hundred ducats to assuage his burn- 
ing covetousness. After he had talked with his man 
and arranged everything, he went to the mother and 
said to her : " I believe, madam, that God has sent me 

Sixth day.] QUEEN OF iVA VARRE. 453 

his angel Raphael, as of old to Tobias, to enable me to 
find a spouse for your daughter. I have in my house 
the most respectable young gentleman in Italy, who has 
seen your daughter, and is deeply in love with her. 
When I was to-day at prayer, God sent him to me, and 
he declared how much he longs for this marriage ; and 
I, knowing his family and his relations, and that he 
comes of a notable race, promised to speak to you on 
the subject. I know of but one inconvenience attending 
this match, which is, that wishing to save one of his 
friends whom another man would have slain, he drew 
his sword to part them , but it happened that his friend 
killed the other, in consequence of which, though he 
never struck a stroke, he is nevertheless a fugitive, be- 
cause he was present at the murder, and had drawn his 
sword. His parents have advised him to retire to this 
city, where he wears the dress of a student, and where 
he will remain incognito until this affair of his is ar- 
ranged, which it is hoped it will be before long. You 
see, consequently, that it would be necessary for the 
marriage to be secret, and that you should not object to 
his going every day to the public lectures, and coming 
home in the evening to sup and sleep in your house." 

" I see a great advantage to myself in what you tell 
me, sir," said the mother ; " for at least I shall have by 
me what I desire most in the world." 

The Cordelier produced the gallant in very good 
trim, and v^ith a handsome doublet of crimson satin. 
He was so well received that the betrothal took place 
without more delay, and midnight had no sooner struck 
than mass was said, they were wedded and bedded, and 
remained together until daybreak, when the bridegroom 
said to his bride that, in order to maintain his incognito, 
he was obliged to leave her and go to the college. After 

454 ^^^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE {Novel 56. 

putting on his crimson satin doublet and his long robe, 
not forgetting his black silk coif, he took leave of his 
wife, who was still in bed, and assured her that every 
evening he would come and sup with her, l^ut that she 
must not expect him at dinner. Thereupon he went 
away, and left his wife the happiest woman in the world 
in her own esteem, for having met with so excellent a 
match. Away went the young Cordelier to the old 
father, and handed over the five hundred ducats, accord- 
ing to their previous agreement, and in the evening he 
returned to her who regarded him as her husband ; nor 
did he fail to make himself so beloved by her and by his 
mother-in-law that they would not have exchanged him 
for the greatest prince in the world. 

This went on for some time ; but as God has pity 
on those who honestly err, it came to pass that the 
mother and daughter had a mind to go hear mass at the 
church of the Cordeliers, and to pay a visit at the same 
time to the good father confessor through whose instru- 
mentality they thought themselves so well provided, the 
one with a son-in-law, the other with a husband. Chance 
so ordained that, not finding the confessor there, nor 
anyone else they knew, they were content to hear high 
mass, which was just beginning, whilst they awaited the 
confessor's arrival. The young wife, attending closely 
to the divine service, was greatly surprised when the 
priest turned to say dominus vobisciiui, for she fancied 
she beheld her husband, or some one singularly resem- 
bling him. She said not a word, however, but waited 
till he appeared again, when she had a still better view 
of him than before, and no longer doubting that it 
was he, " Oh, mother ! " she exclaimed, " what do I 
see .? " 

"What is it } " said the mother. 

Sixt/idciy.] QUEEX OF NAVAKKE. 4^5 

" My husband saying mass, or somebody the most 
like him in the world." 

" Pray, my dear," said the mother, who had not taken 
much notice of the priest, "don't let such a notion into 
your head. It is absolutely impossible that such pious 
men should practise such a cheat. It would be a great 
sin in you to believe any such thing." 

For all that, the mother did not fail to use her eyes, 
and when it came to saying Ite viissa est, she saw foi 
certain that no twin brothers were ever more like each 
other. Nevertheless, so simple was she that she would 
fain have said, " God preserve me from believing m}^ 
eyes." However, as the matter was one which so deeply 
concerned her daughter, she determined to sift it to the 
bottom and know the truth. The husband, who had not 
perceived them, having returned home, she said to her 
daughter, " We shall now know the truth about your 
husband if you choose. When he is in bed I will come 
in, and you will pull off his coif from behind before he is 
aware of it. We shall see then if he is tonsured like the 
one who said mass." 

So said, so done. The wicked husband was no 
sooner in bed than the old lady came in, and took him 
by both hands as if in play, whilst the daughter lifted up 
the back of his cap, and discovered his fine shorn crown. 
Appalled at the sight they instantly called in the domes- 
tics, who seized and bound him, and kept him fast till 
morning, in spite of all his excuses and fine words, which 
moved no one. Next morning the mother sent for her 
confessor, under pretence that she had some great secret 
to communicate to him. He came with speed, and had 
no sooner entered her doors than she had him seized 
like the other, upbraiding him with the cheat he had put 
upon her. After this she committed them both into th^ 


hands of justice; and if the judges were honest men. it 
is not likely that this crime was left unpunished. 

You see from this, ladies, that those who take the 
vow of poverty are not exempt from being tempted by 
avarice, and this is what leads them to the commission 
of so much mischief. 

" Or rather of so much good," said Saffredent ; " for 
how often did the monk make good cheer with the 
five hundred ducats which the old woman would have 
hoarded ? Besides, the poor girl who had longed so much 
for a husband was put by his means into a condition to 
have two, and to judge the better of all hierarchies." 

" You always entertain the falsest opinions I ever 
heard," said Oisille. " This conies of your believing 
that the temperaments of all women are like your own." 

" By your leave, madam, that is not it," said Saffre- 
dent ; " and I would with all my heart that women could 
be as easily satisfied as men." 

" That is a bad saying," replied Oisille, " for there is 
no one here but knows the very contrary, and that what 
you say is not true. The tale we have heard is a con- 
vincing proof of the ignorance of poor women, and the 
wickedness of those whom we regard as better than 
the generality of men ; for neither the mother nor the 
daughter would do anything by themselves, but sub- 
mitted to the advice of those whom they believed to be 
wise and good." 

"There are women so hard to please," said Longarine, 
"that it seems as if nothing less than angels will suit 

" Thence it comes," said Simontault, " that they often 
meet with devils ; and especially those of them who, not 
trusting in God's grace, imagine that by their own good 

Sixth day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 457 

sense, or by that of others, they shall find in this world 
the felicity which can only come from God." 

" Why, Simontault ! " exclaimed Oisille, " I was not 
aware that you knew so much good." 

" Madam," replied he, " it is a pity I am not much 
tried and proved, because, for want of being known to 
you, I see you have formed a bad opinion of me. I may 
fairly, however, practise a Cordelier's trade, since a Cor- 
delier has put his hand to mine." 

" Then you call deceiving women your trade," said 
Parlamente ; " thus, out of your own mouth, you con- 
demn yourself." 

" If I had deceived a hundred thousand of them," he 
returned, " I should not yet have revenged myself for the 
woes which one alone of their sex has made me endure." 

" I know," retorted Parlamente, " that you complain 
perpetually of women ; yet we see you so merry and in 
such good case, that there is no appearance of your hav- 
ing suffered as much as you say. But the Fair Lady 
without Mercy replies that ' it suits well to say so, by 
way of deriving some comfort from it.' " * 

"You quote a notable doctor," said Simontault, "who 
is not only disagreeable, but makes all those ladies so 
who have read and followed his doctrine." 

" Nevertheless, his doctrine is as profitable to young 
ladies as any I know," rejoined Parlamente. 

" Were it to come to that," said Simontault, " that the 

ladies were without mercy, we might well let our horses 

rest and our harness rust until the next war, and do 

nothing but think of household affairs. I pray you tell 

me, is it to a lady's credit that she should be without 

pity, charity, love, or compassion } " 

* A passage from Alain Chartier's poem, previously quoted in 
^fovel XII, 


" Without charity or love, no," rephed Parlamente, 
" that she should not be, but that word compassion sounds 
so badly among women that they cannot use it without 
wronging their honour. For what is this pity or com- 
passion ? It is properly granting the favour one asks 
for. Now we know well what is the favour men usually 

"With your good leave, madame," said Simontault, 
" some there are so moderate that the only favour they 
ask is liberty to speak.'' 

" You remind me of one who was contented with a 
glove," said Parlamente. 

" Let us know something about a lover who was so 
easy to deal with," said Hircan. 

" I will tell you the tale with pleasure," she replied. 


Of a ridiculous milord who wore a lady's glove on his dress-coat. 

Monsieur de Montmorency was sent to Endand 
by King Louis XI. in the capacity of ambassador. He 
conducted himself so well there that he won the friend- 
ship of the kmg and all the other princes, and they even 
communicated to him many secret affairs on which they 
wished to have his advice. One day, when he was at an 
entertainment given by the king, he was seated beside a 
milord of high family, who wore, fastened to his doublet^ 
a small glove such as women use. The glove was 
fastened with golden hooks, and the seams were adorned 
with such a great quantity of diamonds, rubies, emeralds 
and pearls, that the value of the glove was something 

Sixth cfay.l QUEEN OF NA VARRE. ^cq 

extraordinary. Monsieur de Montmorency cast his eyes 
on it so often that the milord perceived he wished to ask 
him the reason of his magnificence ; and, thinking the 
explanation would redound to his honour, he said to the 
ambassador, " I perceive, monsieur, that you are surprised 
I have so much enriched this poor glove ; but I will tell 
you the reason I look upon you as a gallant man, and 
I am sure you know what love is. You must know that 
I have all my life loved a lady whom I still love and 
shall love even after I am dead. As my heart was bolder 
to make a good choice than my tongue to declare it, I 
remained for seven years without darnig even to show 
any signs of loving her, for fear, if she perceived them, I 
should lose the opportunities I had of being frequently 
with her — a thought which terrified me more than death. 
But one day, being in a meadow and gazing upon her, I 
was seized with such a palpitation of the heart that I 
lost all colour and countenance. She having noticed this, 
and asked me what was the matter, I replied that I felt 
intolerably sick at heart. Thinking that this sickness 
was one in which love had no share, she expressed her 
pity for it ; and that made me to entreat that she would 
put her hand on my heart, and see how it beat. She 
did so, more from charity than affection, and as I held 
her gloved hand on my heart, its motions became so 
violent that she perceived I had spoken the truth. Then 
I pressed her hand on my bosom, and said to her, 
' Receive this heart, madam, which struggles to escape 
from my bosom and put itself in the hands of her from 
whom I hope for grace, life and pity. It is this heart, 
madam, which now constrains me to declare the love I 
have long cherished for you in secret, for neither my 
heart nor I, madam, can longer withstand so potent a 
god.' Surprised at so unexpected a declaration, she would 

460 THE HErrAMERON OF THE [7\'brr/ 57. 

have withdrawn her hand, but I held it so fast that 
her glove remained with me instead of that cruel hand. 
As I never had before or since any other approach to 
nearer intimacy with her, I placed this glove over my 
heart as the fittest plaister I could apply to it. I have 
enriched it with all the finest jewels in my possession ; 
but what is dearer to me than all of them is the glove 
itself, which I would not give for the realm of England, 
for there is nothing I prize in the world so much as to 
feel it on my bosom." 

The Seigneur de Montmorency, who would rather 
have had a lady's hand than her glove, highly extolled his 
gallantry, and told him he was the most genuine lover 
he had ever seen, and worthy of better treatment, since 
he set so much store by such a trifle, " But," said he, 
" there is some comfort even in ill luck, as the proverb 
says. You were so much in love that if you had had 
something better than the glove you would perhaps have 
died of joy." The milord admitted this probability, 
without perceiving that Monsieur de Montmorency was 
making orame of him. 

't> &*• 

If all the men in the world were of this character, the 
ladies might trust them, since it would cost them no 
more than a glove. 

" I have been so well acquainted with Monsieur de 
Montmorency," said Geburon, " that I am sure he would 
not have been so easily satisfied as the Englishman, 
otherwise he would not have achieved so many successes 
as he did in love ; for, as the old song says, ' Of a faint 
heart in love no one hears any good.'" 

'• You may be sure the poor lady withdrew her hand 
in great haste when she felt the agitation of the heart," 
said Saffredent, " She thought, no doubt, that, the milord 

Sixth day] QUEEN- OF NA VAkRE. 461 

was about to expire ; and there is nothing, they say, 
which women abhor so much as to touch dead bodies." 

" If you had frequented hospitals as much as taverns," 
said Ennasuite, " you would not say that ; for you would 
have seen women lay out dead bodies for burial, which 
men with all their boldness were often afraid to approach." 

" It is true," said Simontault, " that there is no one 
on whom penance has been imposed who has not done 
the reverse of that which afforded him pleasure : witness 
a lady I once saw in a distinguished house, who, to com- 
pensate for the pleasure she had taken in kissing a man 
she loved, was found at four o'clock in the morning kiss- 
ing the dead body of a man who had been killed the pre- 
ceding day, and for whom she had never had any especial 
love more than for another. Every one was then aware 
that she was doing penance for her past pleasures." 

'•That is just the way," said Oisille, "in which men 
poison all the good acts done by women. My opinion is 
that we ought to kiss neither the living nor the dead, 
except after the manner which God commands." 

"For my part," said Hircan, "I care so little for 
kissing any other woman than my wife, that I willingly 
subscribe to any terms that may be made on the subject ; 
but I pity the young folk whom you would deprive of 
such a small gratification, annulling the precept of Saint 
Paul, who ordained that people should kiss /;/ oscnlo 
sane to." 

" If Saint Paul had been a man like you," said Nomer- 
fide, "we should have demanded palpable evidence of 
the spirit of God which spoke in him." 

" To the last you will rather doubt Holy Writ than 
give up a hair's breadth of one of your petty ceremonies," 
said Geburon. 

" God forbid," replied Oisille, " that we should doubt 


Holy Writ, though we put Httle faith in your lies. There 
is no woman but knows that her proper creed consists 
in never doubting the word of God, and always distrust- 
ing that of men." 

"I believe," said Simontault, "that there are more 
men deceived by women than women deceived by men. 
Their want of love for us hinders them from believing- 
the truth ; whilst we, on the contrary, love them to such 
excess, that we readily believe their falsehoods, and find 
ourselves their dupes before we have imagined the pos- 
sibiUty of their duping us." 

" I suppose," said Parlamente, "you have heard some 
fool complain of having been duped by some light woman. 
In fact, what you state carries so little weight with it, 
that it has need of being supported by some example. 
So, if you have one to adduce, let us hear it. I do not 
mean to say that we are bound to believe you ; but it 
will not pain our ears to hear you malign us, for we know 
the truth of the matter." 

"Well, that being so," said Simontault, "you shall 
be satisfied." 


How a lady of the court pleasantly revenged herself on her faith- 
less lover. 

At the court of Francis I. a lady of lively wit, by 
her beauty, her good breeding, and pleasing tongue, had 
won the hearts of several gentlemen, with whom she 
contrived to pass the time very well without exposing 
her honour, playing with them so pleasantly that they 

S/xt^day.] QUEEN OF MAVARkE. 463 

knew not on what to reckon; for the most confident 
were in despair, and the most despairing were not with- 
out hope. However, whilst making sport of most of 
them, she could not help greatly loving one of them, 
whom she called her cousin — a name which served as a 
pretext for a closer intimacy. But, as there is nothing 
stable in the world, their friendship often turned into 
anger, and then again became stronger than ever, in 
3uch wise that the whole court could not be ignorant of 
it. One day this lady, in order to let it be seen that she 
was passionless, as well as to tease him on account of 
whose love she had suffered much annoyance, showed 
him a more gracious countenance than ever she had 
done before. The gentleman, who was not deficient in 
boldness either in war or in love, began hotly to press 
the suit he had often before addressed to her. She pre- 
tended she could no longer resist, granted what he asked, 
and told him that, in order to do so, she would go up to 
her chamber, which was on a garret-floor, where she 
knew there was nobody, and as soon as he saw her go he 
was to follow her ; and then, as she said, so graciously 
was she disposed towards him, that he would find her alone. 
The gentleman believed her, and went with great de- 
light to amuse himself with the other ladies, until he 
should see her depart. His fair one, who was not de- 
ficient in any of the sly ways of women, went up to 
Madame Margaret, the king's daughter, and the Duchess 
of Montpensier, and said to them, " I will show you, if 
you like, the finest sport you have ever seen." The 
princesses, who were no friends to melancholy, begged 
she would tell them what the sport was. " There is 
such a one, whom you both know," she said, " a charm- 
ing man, if there ever was one, but the most audacious 
in the world. You know how many tricks he has 

464 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \_N(n'f. 58. 

played me ; and you know, also, that when I loved him 
most he quitted me for others ; which vexed me more 
than I suffered to appear. But now God has given me 
an opportunity to be revenged. I am now going to my 
room, which is overhead ; and if you will watch you 
will presently see him come up after me. When he 
shall have passed the galleries, and is about to ascend 
the stairs, go both of you to the window, help me to 
cry ' Thief ! thief ! ' and you will see what a rage he will 
be in. I am sure his anger will not become him badly ; 
and if he does not openly abuse me, I am sure he will 
not fail to do so in his heart." 

This plan was agreed on, not without much laughter 
beforehand ; for there was no gentleman who waged 
war more on the ladies, all of whom loved and esteemed 
him so much, that for nothing in the world would they 
have exposed themselves to his raillery. As soon as the 
concocter of the plot had left them, the two princesses, 
who anticipated a large share in the glory which she 
was to win from the gentleman, set themselves on the 
watch, and when he went out they followed him into the 
gallery. There, suspecting nothing, he muffled himself 
in his cloak to hide his face, and descended the stairs to 
the court, but, seeing some one by whom he did not 
wish to be observed, he traversed the court and returned 
by another way, all the while without perceiving the 
princesses, who saw all his movements. When he 
reached the staircase leading to the fair one's chamber, 
the princesses posted themselves at the window, and pres- 
ently they heard the lady above crying " Thief ! thief ! " 
with all her might. The two princesses repeated the 
cry so loudly that they were heard all over the chateau. 
I leave you to imagine the vexation of the gentleman as 
he ran away, not so well muffled but that he was known 

Sixth day.\ QEUEN OF NA VARRE. 465 

by those wh-o were in the secret. They often rallied 
him on the affair afterwards ; nor did she who had 
played him the trick spare him, but told him to his face 
that she had well revenged herself. But he had such 
ready answers, and defended himself so cleverly, that he 
would have had them believe he had suspected their de- 
sign, and that he had only promised to go to the lady to 
make sport of her in some way, assuring them he would 
never have given himself the trouble for her sake, for 
he had long ceased to love her. Bu»t the ladies would 
not own themselves defeated in that way, and the affair 
is still undecided. 

If he really believed the lady, which is not probable, 
since he was so wary and so bold that few or no men of 
his age and time surpassed him, whereof his glorious 
death is good evidence, it strikes me that one cannot 
help admitting that gallant men who are in love are 
often the dupes of ladies from excess of credulity.* 

" In faith," said Ennasuite, " I applaud the lady for 
what she did ; for when a man loves a lady and quits 
her for another, she can never revenge herself too much." 

* The Bibliophiles Francais surmise that the Queen of Navarre 
has made herself the heroine of this novel. The doctrines she has 
several times laid down in her epilogues respecting love and the 
relations of courtesy between the sexes, are quite in harmony with 
what she there says respecting the serviteti?'s whom a lady may 
entertain without giving her husband any reason for suspicion. 
Nothing can be conjectured as to the name of the gallant on whom 
the trick was played. 

In the following novel Margaret returns to the same subject, and 
relates how the same lady contrived to convict her husband of in- 
fidelity, and force him to take her to court, from which he had re- 
moved her through jealousy. If we compare this with what is 
known of Margaret's married life, the conjecture of her last editors 
appears so much the more plausible. 



"True, if she is loved," said Parlamente ; "but some 
there are who love without making sure they are loved ; 
and when they perceive that their gallants love else- 
where, they accuse them of inconstancy. But women 
of discretion never suffer themselves to be thus de- 
ceived. They pay no heed to anything but the truth, 
for fear of being exposed to the irksome consequences 
of falsehood ; for the true and the false talk the same 

" If all women were of your way of thinking," said 
Simontault, "men might box up their supplications. 
But for all that you and others like you can say, we will 
never believe that women are as incredulous as they are 
fair. Under this conviction we will live as content 
as you would wish to render us uneasy by your maxims." 

" As I very well know the lady who played this good 
trick," said Longarine, " I can have no difficulty in be- 
lieving any sly things that may be attributed to her. 
Since she did not spare her own husband, it is not likely 
that she would spare her lover." 

"What, her husband.^" said Simontault. "Then 
you know more than I ; so pray tell us what you know." 

" I will, since you wish it," she replied. 


The same lady, whose husband was jealous of her without just 
cause, contriv'es to detect him in such a position with one of 
her women that he is obliged to humble himself, and allow his 
wife to live as she pleases. 

The lady of whom you told the tale was married to a 
man of good and ancient family, whose fortune was not 
inferior to his birth. Their marriage was solely the 

Sixth day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 467 

result of their mutual love. The wife, who was of all 
women in the world the most ingenuous, made no secret 
of it to her husband that she had lovers, whom she 
made game of, and only used for her pastime. Her 
husband had his share in this pleasure ; but in the long 
run he grew dissatisfied with this manner of proceeding. 
On the one haixl, he took it amiss that she had long 
visits from persons he regarded neither as relations nor 
as friends, and on the other he was not pleased with the 
expenditure he was compelled to make in attending the 
court. For this reason he retired to his own house as 
often as he could ; but he received so many visits there 
that his expenses were hardly diminished. Wherever 
he was his wife always found means to divert herself, 
whether with play, or dancing, or other amusements, to 
which young ladies may decorously addict themselves. 
When her husband sometimes told her that they spent 
too much, she would reply that he might be assured she 
would never make him a cuckold, but only a rogue. In 
fact, she was so fond of magnificence in attire, that she 
insisted on having dresses as rich and fine as any seen 
at the court, to which her husband took her as seldom 
as possible, notwithstanding her eager desire to be 
always there. For this reason she made herself so com- 
plaisant to her husband that it was with difficulty he re- 
fused her most extravagant requests. 

One day when she had failed in all her devices to 
induce him to take her to court, she perceived that he 
looked very wistfully at a chambermaid of hers, and 
thought she might turn this circumstance in some way 
to her own advantage. She questioned the girl in pri- 
vate, and managed so cleverly, by dint of promises and 
threats, that she made her confess that since she had 
been in her service not a day had passed in which her 

468 THE HEPTAMEROM OF THE \N<n>el 59. 

master had not made love^ to her ; but that she would 
rather die than do anything contrary to Gocl and her 
honour, the more so as the lady had done her the honour 
to receive her into her service, which would make the 
crime double. 

The lady, on learning her husband's infidelity, was at 
once vexed and rejoiced. She was vexed that at the very 
time when he testified so much regard for her, he was 
furtively seeking means to put an affront upon her under 
her very eyes, and to quit her for a girl she regarded 
as greatly inferior to herself in beauty and attractions. 
She was rejoiced, because she hoped to surprise her 
husband in the fact, and to work him in such a way that 
he would never again reproach her with her lovers or 
her fondness for residing at court. To this end she 
begged the girl to yield gradually to her husband's so- 
licitations upon certain prescribed conditions. The girl 
made some objections ; but her mistress having made 
herself warrant for her life and honour, she promised to 
do whatever she pleased. 

The next time the husband accosted the girl he found 
her quite changed, and pressed her to comply with more 
than his usual vivacity ; but knowing her part by rote, 
she represented to him that she was a poor girl, and 
would become poorer than ever if she yielded to him, 
because she would be dismissed by her mistress, in whose 
service she hoped to save enough to get her a good 
husband. The gentleman replied, that she had no need 
to be uneasy on that score, for he would settle her bet- 
ter in marriage than her mistress could do ; and, more- 
over, he would manage the intrigue with such secrecy 
that no one should ever be able to say a word against 
her. Thereupon the bargain was concluded. When 
the parties came to deliberate on the place where it was 


Sixth day.] QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 469 

to be sealed, the girl said she knew no better place, or 
less likely to be suspected, than a little house in the 
park, in which it happened, fortunately, that there was 
a chamber and a bed. The gentleman, who could never 
have made objections to any place proposed, was quite 
satisfied with this, and awaited with great impatience 
the day and hour agreed on. 

The girl kept her word with her mistress, told her 
all that had passed between her master and herself, and 
that the rendezvous was for the next day after dinner. 
She would not fail, she said, to give her mistress a signal 
when it was time for her to keep the appointment, and 
begged she would not fail to notice it, and be upon the 
spot in time to deliver her from the peril to which she 
exposed herself for her sake. The lady vowed she might 
depend upon her, begged her to have no fear, and as- 
sured her she would never forsake her, and would per- 
fectly secure her from her master's resentment. 

Next day after dinner the gentleman showed a fairer 
face to his wife than he had ever done ; this was by no 
means agreeable to her ; but she dissembled so well that 
he never suspected what was passing in her mind. When 
dinner was over, she asked him how he would while 
away the time. He said he knew nothing better for 
the purpose than to play at cent.* The company then 
sat down to play, but she would not be of the party, 
saying she would be as much amused looking on. Be- 
fore he sat down to play he did not forget to tell the girl 
to remember her promise. The game had no sooner 
begun than she went out of the room, making a sign to 

* To play at cent. This probably means the game now called 
picquet ; it is an old game, and is among those enumerated by 
Rabelais, in book i. ch. xxii. of Gargantua. 


her mistress that she was setting out on the pilgrimage 
she had to make. The signal was not lost upon the 
wife, but the husband saw nothing. An hour afterwards, 
however, one of his valets having made him a sign from 
a distance, he told his wife he had a headache, and must 
go into the open air and rest a little. She knew what 
ailed him quite as well as lie did himself, and asked him 
should she hold his cards. He begged her to do so, and 
said he would soon be back. There was no need to 
hurry himself, she said, for she could play for two hours 
without being tired. The husband then retired to his 
chamber, and thence to the park. His wife, who knew 
a short way, waited a little, and then suddenly pretend- 
ing to have the colic, she gave up her hand to another. 

The moment she left the room she threw off her high 
pattens, and ran as fast to the place where she did not 
choose the bargain to be concluded without her, and ar- 
rived in good time, almost as soon as her husband. She 
remained behind the door to hear the fine things he said 
to her servant, and when she saw that he was approach- 
ing the criminal point, she caught hold of him behind, 
and said, " I am too near for you to take another." It is 
needless to ask if he was then in a towering passion, 
both at being frustrated of his expected pleasure, and at 
seeing that his wife, whose good-will he was afraid of 
losing for ever, knew more than he would have had her 
know. Believing, however, that it was a trick played 
upon him by the girl, he ran at her with such fury, with- 
out speaking to his wife, that if the latter had not held 
his hands he would have killed her. He said, in a trans- 
port of rage, that she was the worst baggage he had ever 
known, and that if his wife had waited, she would have 
seen that he only came there to tr}' and make a fool of 
her; and that, instead of what she expected, he would 

— - - -lll^lMtl "I »■■! 

St baggage i 
he had ever known. 

Sixth day.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 47 i 

have given her a flogging. But the wife knew better 
than to accept such flimsy excuses, and rated him so 
roundly that he was greatly afraid she would leave him. 
He made her all the promises she desired, and touched 
by her sage remonstrances, he confessed that he was 
wrong to take it amiss that she had lovers. He agreed 
with her that a handsome and respectable woman is not 
the less virtuous for being loved, provided she say and do 
nothing contrary to her honour ; but that a man is un- 
pardonable who takes pains to pursue a girl who does 
not love him, and to wrong his wife and his own con- 
science. He ended by promising that he would no 
longer prevent her from going to court, nor ever take it 
amiss that she had lovers, convinced, as he was, that she 
retained them only for her diversion, not for any regard 
she had for them. 

This language was not displeasing to the lady, who 
thought she had gained a great point ; however, she pre- 
tended quite the reverse, saying she did not care to go 
to court, and that there was nothing dearer to her than 
his affection, without which all companies were odious 
to her. A woman, she said, who was loved by her hus- 
band, and who loved him as she did hers, carried with 
her a safe-conduct, warranting her to speak with all the 
world and be blamed by no one. The poor gentleman 
took such pains to assure her of the love he cherished 
for her, that at last they went back good friends. To 
avoid a recurrence of the mischief, he begged her to dis- 
miss the servant who had caused all this hubbub. She 
did so ; but it was by marrying her well and respectably 
at the expense of her husband, who, to make his wife 
forget the prank he had played, took her soon to court 
with such pomp and magnificence that she had full rea- 
son to be satisfied. 


This, ladies, was what made me say I was not sur- 
prised at the trick she had played on one of her lovera 
after the one I knew she had played on her husband. 

" You have depicted to us a very sly wife, and a very 
stupid husband," said Hircan. " Since he had gone so 
far, he ought not to have stopped on so fair a road." 

"And what should he have done.'" inquired Lon- 

"What he wanted to do," replied Hircan, "for his 
wife was not less angry at knowing what he had intended 
to do than if he had actually done it. Perhaps she would 
have liked him better if he had shown himself bolder 
and a better fellow." 

" That's all very well," said Ennasuite, " but where 
do you find men who can force two women at once 1 
The wife would have defended her rights, and the girl 
her maidenhead." 

" That is true," said Hircan ; " but a strong and bold 
man will fearlessly attack two weak persons, and be sure 
to get the better of them." 

" I admit that if he had drawn his sword he might 
have killed them both," returned Ennasuite, " but I don't 
see how he could have escaped from them otherwise. 
Tell us, pray, what would you have done, had you been 
in his place } " 

" I would have thrown my arms round my wife and 
carried her out of doors, and then I would have done 
what I pleased to the servant by fair means or by 

" It is enough, Hircan," said Parlamente, " that you 
know how to do wrong." 

" I am sure, Parlamente," he replied, " that I do not 
scandalize the innocent before whom I speak, or wish to 
maintain a bad cause. I neither praise the enterprise 

Sixth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 473 

which was bad in itself, nor the enterpriser who stopped 
short half-way for fear rather than for love. I applaud 
a man who loves his wife as God ordains ; but when he 
does not love her, I do not think the better of him for 
fearing her." 

" Truly," returned Parlamente, " if love did not make 
you a good husband, what you would do for fear would 
be no great thing, and so I should esteem it." 

" The love I have for you, Parlamente," said Hircan, 
" subjects me as much to your wishes as the fear of death 
and hell could do," 

" You may say what you will," his wife replied, " but 
I have reason to be content with what I have seen and 
known of you. As for what I have not known, I have 
no wish to doubt, and still less to inquire about it." 

" It is in my opinion," said Nomerfide, " a great folly 
in women to pry so curiously into what their husbands 
do ; but it is no less a one in husbands to want to 
know every step taken by their wives. Sufficient for 
the day is the evil thereof, without taking so much 
thought for the morrow." 

"Nevertheless it is sometimes necessary," said 
Oisille, " to inquire into matters in which the honour of 
a house is concerned ; that is to say, for the purpose of 
setting things right, and not from a wish to judge ill of 
persons, for everyone is liable to error." 

" Many have come to mischief for want of inquiring 
into their wives' freaks," said Geburon. 

" If you know any instance of the kind, pray tell it 
us," said Longarinc. 

" I will do so with pleasure," he replied, " since you 
desire it," 

474 ^-^^ HEPTAMERON OF THE \N<rvel^. 


A woman of Paris quits her husband for one of the king's chanters, 
counterfeits death, and is buried, but secretly disinterred alive 
and well — Her husband marries another wife, and fifteen years 
afterwards is obliged to repudiate her, and take back his first 

There was in Paris a man so good-natured that he 
would have scrupled to believe that a man had lain with 
his wife though he had seen it with his own eyes. This 
poor man married the most profligate woman in the 
world, but never noticed her licentiousness, and treated 
her as though she were the best of wives. But one day, 
when King Louis XIL was in Paris, this woman went and 
gave herself up to one of that prince's chanters ; and 
when she found that the king was quitting Paris and 
that she was about to lose her lover, she resolved to go 
with him and quit her husband. The chanter had no 
objection to this, and took her to a house he had near 
Blois, where they lived long together. The poor hus- 
band, not finding his wife, searched for her in all direc- 
tions, and learned at last that she had gone off with the 
chanter. Wishing to recover his lost sheep which he 
had badly guarded, he wrote her several letters, begging 
her to return and promising to receive her, provided she 
would lead a good life for the future ; but she took 
such pleasure in the chanter's singing that she had for- 
gotten her husband's voice, made no account of his fair 
words, and snapped her fingers at him. The incensed 
husband then gave her notice that he would claim her 
legally through the Church, since she would not return 

Sixth day.-\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 475 

to him of her own accord ; whereupon, fearing that if 
justice meddled with the matter she and her chanter 
would come badly off, she devised a scheme worthy of 
such a woman. 

She pretended to be sick, sent for some worthy wo- 
men of the city to visit her, and they came the more 
willingly as they hoped to make her illness instrumental 
towards bringing her back from her vicious ways. To 
this end each of them addressed the best remonstrances 
she could to her, and the seemingly dying woman lis- 
tened to them with tears, confessed her sin, and played 
the part so well, that the whole company had pity on 
her, believing her tears and her repentance to be sin- 
cere. They tried to console the poor penitent, told her 
that God was not so terrible by a great deal as some 
indiscreet preachers represented him to be, and assured 
her He would never withhold his mercy from her ; and 
then they sent for a good man to hear her confession. 
Next day the priest of the parish came and administered 
to her the holy sacrament, which she received with so 
much devotion that all the good women of the town who 
were present were moved with tears, and praised the 
divine goodness for having had pity on the poor crea- 
ture. Afterwards, upon her feigning that she could no 
longer swallow food, the priest brought her extreme 
unction, which she received with many fine signs of de- 
votion ; for she could hardly speak, at least so it was 
believed. She lay a long while in the same state ; but 
at last the spectators imagined that she gradually lost 
her sight, her hearing, and her other senses, whereupon 
everybody began to cry, "Jesus! Lord! have mercy!" 
Night being now at hand, and the ladies having some 
way to go, they all retired. As they were leaving the 
bouse, word was brought them that she had just ex- 


pired. They said a De profimdis for her, and went 

The priest asked the chanter where he would have 
her buried. He replied that she had expressed a wish 
to be buried in the cemetery, and that it would be ad- 
visable under the circumstances that the interment 
should take place by night. The unfortunate woman 
was laid out for burial by a servant, who took good care 
not to hurt her ; and then she was carried by torchlight 
to the grave which the chanter had caused to be dug. 
When the body was carried past the houses of those 
who had seen the deceased receive extreme unction, 
they all came out and accompanied her to the grave, 
where the priests and the women left her, but the 
chanter remained after them. The moment he saw 
that the company were far enough oft, he and his servant 
woman lifted the pretended dead woman out ot the grave 
more alive than ever, and took her back to his house, in 
which he kept her long concealed. 

The husband, who was bent on recovering his wife, 
went to Blois to demand justice, and found that she was 
dead and buried. The fact was certified to him by all 
the ladies of Blois, who related to him what a fine end 
she had made ; and greatly did the good man rejoice, 
believing that the soul of his wife was in Paradise, and 
himself disencumbered of her wicked body. He re- 
turned to Paris with a glad heart, and entered into a 
second marriage with a respectable young woman, a 
good housewife, by whom he had several children, and 
with whom he lived fourteen or fifteen years. But at 
last rumour, which keeps no secrets, informed him that 
his first wife was not dead, and that she was still with 
her chanter. The poor man dissembled as much as he 
could, affecting to know nothing, and heartily wishing 

Sixth day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 477 

that the rumour might be false ; but his virtuous wife 
heard of it, and was so distressed that she almost died 
of grief. Could she have concealed her misfortune with- 
out wounding her conscience, she would gladly have 
done it ; but that was impossible, for the Church took 
up the matter at once, and began by separating them 
until the truth should have been ascertained. The fact 
having been verified, the poor man was constrained to 
quit his good wife and go after his bad one. He came 
to Blois shortly after Francis I. became king. He found 
there Queen Claude and the regent-mother, laid his 
complaint before them, and demanded of them her whom 
he would fain not have found ; but he was forced to seek 
her, to the great pity of all beholders. 

His wife, on being confronted with him, insisted for 
a long time that he was not her husband ; which he 
would gladly have believed it he could. Angry but un- 
abashed, she then told him she would rather die than go 
back to him. The good man was very well satisfied 
with this declaration ; but the ladies, before whom she 
spoke so impudently, condemned her to return to her 
husband, and so sharply admonished and threatened 
the chanter that he was constrained to tell his ugly mis- 
tress he did not want to have anything more to do with 
her, and that she must go back to her husband. Thus 
repulsed on all sides, the wretched creature went away 
with her husband, and was better treated by him than 
she deserved. 

I repeat, ladies, that if the poor husband had taken 
heed to his wife, he would not thus have lost her ; for a 
thing well watched is not easily lost, and doubtless the 
proverb is true, which says that negligence makes the 


" It IS strange," remarked Hircan, " strong love is 
where it seems least reasonable." 

" I have heard," said Simontault, " that one might 
sooner break two marriages than the love of a priest and 
his servant." 

-' I believe it," said Ennasuite, " for those who bind 
others in marriage know how to fasten the knot so tightly 
that it is only to be undone by death ; the doctors, too, 
maintain that spiritual language is more persuasive than 
other, and consequently spiritual love surpasses every 
other kind." 

*' I cannot pardon ladies," said Dagoucin, " who for- 
sake a well-bred husband or lover for a priest, however 

" Leave our holy mother the Church alone, I pray 
you," said Hircan, " and be assured that it is a great 
pleasure for poor timid women to sin in secret with 
those who can absolve them ; for some there are who 
are much more ashamed of confessing a sin than of 
committing it." 

" You speak of such as know not God," said Oisille, 
"and imagine that secret things will not be revealed be- 
fore the whole host of Heaven. But I do not believe 
that it is for sake of confession that such women seek 
confessors. The enemy has so blinded them that they 
think much more of settling down upon a place that 
seems to them the most secret and secure, than of 
having absolution for the guilt of which they do not 

" Repent, indeed ! " exclaimed Saffredent. " They 
think themselves much more saintly than other women, 
and I am sure that there are some who think it a great 
honour to them to persevere in intrigues of this sort." 

" From the way in which you express yourself," said 

^ixthday^^ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 4^^ 

Oisille, "one would think you knew some such person. 
That being the case, I beg you will begin the day to- 
morrow by telling us what you know. There goes the 
last bell for vespers ; for the monks went away after our 
tenth novel, and left us to decide our dispute between 

So saying she rose, and the company following her 
example, they went to church, where they found they 
were waited for. After vespers they supped, and not 
without talking over several fine tales. After supper 
they all went, according to custom, to divert themselves 
m the meadow, and then to bed, to have their memories 
clearer next day. 



Madame Oisille failed not to administer to them in 
the morning the wholesome pasture she drew from the 
reading of the acts and virtuous deeds of the glorious 
knights and apostles of Jesus Christ, and told them that 
those narratives were enough to fill one with the wish to 
have lived in such times, and make one deplore the de- 
formity of this age compared with that. After readmg 
and explaining to them the beginning of that excellent 
book, she begged them to go to church in the union with 
which the apostles addressed their prayers to Heaven, 
and solicit the grace of God, who never refuses it to 
those who ask for it with faith. Everyone thought the 
advice very good, and they arrived in church just as the 
mass of the Holy Ghost was beginning. This was so a 
propos that they listened to the service with great de- 
votion. Again at dinner the conversation turned on the 
lives of the blessed apostles, and the subject was so 
pleasing that the company had nearly forgotten to return 
to the rendezvous for the novels. Nomerfide, who was 
the youngest of them, observed this, and said : " Madame 
Oisille has put us so much upon devotion that the time 
for relating novels is passing away without our thinking 
of retiring to prepare our novels." Thereupon the com- 
pany rose, went for a short while to their respective 
chambers, and then repaired to the meadow as they had 
done the day before. 

When all were comfortably seated, Madame Oisille 
said to Saif redent, " Though I am quite sure you will 

Sc' enlh dny.\ QUEEN OF NA VARKE. 4S I 

say nothing to the advantage of women, yet I must re- 
mind you that you promised us a novel yesterday even- 


" I stipulate, madam," replied Saffredent, " that I 
shall not pass for an evil speaker in speaking the truth, 
nor lose the good-will of virtuous ladies by relating what 
M:intons do. Experience has taught me what it is to be 
deprived of their presence, and if I were likewise de- 
prived of their good graces, I should not be alive at this 

So saying, he cast his eyes on the opposite side to 
that where sat she who was the cause of his weal and 
woe ; but at the same time he looked at Ennasuite, and 
made her blush as if what he had said was meant for 
her. However, he was not the less understood by the 
right person. Madame Oisille having then assured him 
he might fairly speak the truth at the cost of whom it 
concerned, he began as follows. 


A husband became reconciled to his wife after she had liv^ed four- 
teen or fifteen years with a canon. 

There lived near the town of Autun a very hand- 
some woman, fair complexioned, very tall, and of as 
goodly a presence as any woman I ever saw. She had 
married a respectable man, who seemed younger than 
herself, and with whom she had reason to be satisfied. 
Shortly after their marriage he took her to Autun, where 
he had business. Whilst the husband was engaged as a 
suitor in the courts of justice, the wife went to church 

and prayed for him. She continued her visits to that holy 


482 Tin: HJ-J'TAMERON OF THE {Nmel dx- 

place so long that a very rich canon fell in love with her, 
and took his measures so well that the poor wretch gave 
herself up to him ; but the husband had no suspicion of 
this, and was more intent to taking care of his prcpert}^ 
than of his wife. 

When the time came for the husband and wife to 
return to their home, which was distant seven good 
leagues from the town, great was the regret on her part. 
The canon promised to go see her often, which he did 
under pretence of journeys, in which he always called at 
their house. The husband was not such a fool as not 
to understand the canon's purpose, and accordingly, 
when he next came there he did not see the wife, for her 
husband had taken good care to prevent it. The wife 
pretended not to notice this jealousy, of which she was 
well aware, but she was bent on counteracting the pre- 
cautions it led to, deeming it a hell to be deprived of the 
sight of her idol. One day when her husband was 
abroad, she gave her men and women servants so much 
to do that she remained alone and unobserved in the 
house. Immediately, taking what was necessary for her, 
and without any other company than her extravagant 
love, she started off on foot for Autun, where she arrived 
not so late but that she was recognized by her canon, 
who kept her close and concealed for more than a year, 
in ' spite of all the monitions and excommunications 
launched at him at the husband's suit. 

Finding all other expedients fail, the husband laid his 
plaint before the bishop, whose archdeacon, as good a 
man as any in France, personally visited all the houses 
of the canons, until he found the woman who was sup- 
.posed to be lost, committed her to prison, and condemned 
the canon to a heavy penance. The husband, hearing 
that his wife had been recovered bv the exertions of the 

'Seventh Jay. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 483 

good archdeacon, and of several other worthy people, was 
willing to take her back upon her oath that, for the future, 
she would behave like an honest woman ; an oath which 
the simple man, who loved her much, readily believed that 
she would keep. He took her back into his house, and 
treated her in all respects as before, except that he gave 
her two old servant women, one of whom was always with 
her when the other was elsewhere. But for all her hus- 
band's good treatment, her extravagant love for the canon 
made her regard all her repose as a torment. Though 
she was a very fine woman, and he a man of strong and 
vigorous temperament, yet she had no children by him, 
for her heart was always seven leagues away from her 
body. Nevertheless, such was her dissimulation, that 
her husband believed she had forgotten the past, as he 
had done on his part ; but her heart was too wicked to be 
capable of so happy and laudable a change. 

At the very time when she saw that her husband 
loved her most and distrusted her least, she feigned illness, 
and carried on the deception so well that the poor hus- 
band was in great distress on her account,. and spared 
nothing for her cure. At last he and all his household 
believed that she really was sinking to the grave. 
Seeing that her husband was as much afflicted at this as 
he had reason to be rejoiced, she begged he would 
authorize her to make her will ; which he freely did, with 
tears in his eyes. Having the power to make a will, 
because she had no children, she bequeathed to her hus- 
band all she had in her gift, beseeching his pardon for 
the affront she had put upon him. Then she sent for 
the parish priest, confessed, and received the holy sacra- 
ment of the altar with such devotion that everyone wept 
at witnessing so fine and so glorious an end. In the 
evening she begged her husband to have extreme unction 


brought her, and told him she was sinking so fast she 
was afraid she should not live to receive it. Her hus- 
band had it brought with the utmost speed, and she 
received it with a devotion that excited every one's ad- 
miration. After partaking of these fine mysteries, she 
said to her husband that since by God's grace she had 
received all that the Church had ordained, she felt her 
conscience so calm that she wished to repose a little, 
and begged that he would do the same, seeing what great 
need he had of it, after having wept and watched so long 
beside her bed. The husband and the men-servants 
having gone to sleep, the two old women who had kept 
guard over her sq long while she was in health having 
now no fear of losing her but by death, went to sleep 
likewise. As soon as she heard them snoring soundly, 
she got up in her shift and stole out of the room, listen- 
ing to hear if there was anybody stirring in the house. 
Finding all quiet, she passed out through a little garden 
door which was not locked, and walked all night, in her 
shift and barefooted, in the direction of Autun, to repair 
to the saint who had hindered her from dying. 

The road, however, was so long that daylight over- 
took her before she reached her journey's end. Look- 
ing round then on all sides, she saw two men on horse- 
back coming towards her at full gallop, and making no 
doubt that one of them was her husband who was in 
pursuit of her, she hid her whole body in the mud 
of a marsh, and her head between the rushes, and heard 
her husband say to his servant, as he rode by, like a 
man in despair, " O the wicked wretch ! Who would 
ever have imagined that she would have thought of 
cloaking such an infamous and abominable act under the 
holy sacraments of the Church } " 

" Since Judas did not scruple to betray his master 

Seventh day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 485 

when partaking of the Hke food," replied the servant, 
" can you wonder at a woman's betraying her husband 
in that manner ? " 

The husband rode on, and the wife remained among 
the rushes, more joyous at having duped and baffled 
him than ever she had been at home in a good bed, 
where she thought she was held in slavery. The hus- 
band searched for her all over Autun, but having clearly 
ascertained that she had not entered the town, he re- 
traced his steps, and on his way did nothing but inveigh 
against her and his great loss, threatening her with noth- 
ing less than death if he caught her ; but she was as in- 
accessible to fear as to the sense of cold, although the 
weather and the place might well have made her repent 
of her horrible journey. Anyone who knew not how 
the fire of hell heats those who are full of it would have 
wondered how this woman, coming out of a warm bed, 
could have endured such severe cold for a whole day. 
She did so, however, without losing courage, and re- 
sumed her journey to Autun as soon as night came. 
Just as they were about to close the town gates this pil- 
grim arrived, and went straightway to her saint, who 
was so astonished to see her in such a trim that he could 
hardly believe it was she. After turning her about and 
examining her well on all sides, he found that she had 
flesh and bones, which a spirit has not ; he was satisfied 
she was not a phantom, and they agreed so well to- 
gether that she remained with him for fourteen or fif* 
teen years. 

Vox a while she lived secluded, but at last she lost 
all fear ; and what was worse, she prided herself so much 
on the honour of having such a lover that she took pre- 
cedence at church of most of the respectable women of 
the town, the wives of officers as well as others. She 


had children by the canon, and, among others, a daugh- 
ter, who was married to a rich merchant with so much 
magnificence that all the ladies of the town were indig- 
nant, but had not influence enough to correct such an 

It happened at this time that Queen Claude, consort 
of King Francis, passed through Autun, accompanied 
by the regent-mother and her daughter, the Duchess of 
Alengon. Then came a femme de chambre of the 
queen, named Perrette, to the duchess, and said to her, 
" Hearken to me, madam, I beseech you, and you will do 
as good an act as if you went to hear the service of the day, 
or even better." The duchess willingly listened, know- 
ing that from her lips would come nothing but what was 
meet to be heard. Perrette told her how she had en- 
gaged a little girl to help her to soap the queen's linen, 
and that, on asking her news of the town, the girl had 
told her of the vexation felt by the honourable ladies 
thereof at being obliged to yield precedence to this 
canon's wife, part of whose history she related to her. 
The duchess immediately went to the queen and the 
regent-mother, and repeated to them what she had 
heard ; and without other form of process they immedi- 
ately sent for that wretch, who did not conceal herself ; 
far, indeed, of being ashamed, she was proud of the 
honour of being the mistress of the house of so rich a 
man. Accordingly, she presented herself with effront- 
ery before the princesses, who were so astounded at her 
impudence that at first they knew not what to say to 
her ; but afterwards the regent-mother spoke to her in 
terms that would have drawn tears from any woman of 
good understanding. Instead, however, of weeping, the 
wretched woman said to them, with great assurance. 

" I beseech you, mesdames, not to let my honour be 

Stventh day:\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 487 

touched ; for, thank God, I have lived with the canon 
so well and so virtuously that no one can say a word 
against me on that score. Let it not be supposed that 
I offend God ; for it is three years since the good canon 
has touched me, and we live as chastely and with as 
much love as if we were two dear little angels, without 
there ever having been between us a word or a wish to the 
contrary. Whoever, then, shall disunite us will commit a 
great sin ; for the good man, who is nearly eighty years 
old, will not live long without me, who am forty-five." 

You may imagine what these ladies said to her, and 
how they reproved her for her obduracy : but say what 
they would to her, old as she was, and illustrious and 
worshipful as were the persons who addressed her, there 
was no shaking her obstinacy. To humble her, the 
princesses sent for the good archdeacon of Autun, who 
sentenced her to a year's imprisonment on bread and 
water. They also sent for her husband, who, in consid- 
eration of their good exhortations, promised to take her 
back after her penance. But finding herself a prisoner, 
and knowing that the canon was resolved never to take 
her back, she thanked the ladies for having taken a devil 
off her shoulders ; and her repentance was so great and 
so perfect that her husband, instead of waiting the year's 
end to take her back, did not wait a fortnight before he 
claimed her of the archdeacon, and they have since 
that lived together in peace and harmony. 

You see, ladies, how wicked ministers convert St. 
Peter's chains into chains of Satan, so strong and hard 
to break that the sacraments, which cast out devils, are 
means of retaining them longer in the consciences of 
such people ; for the best things become the most per- 
nicious when they are abused, 

488 tub: HEPTAMERON of the INovelbx. 

" Truly she was a great wretch," said Oisille, " but 
no less true is it that she was severely punished in ap- 
pearing before such judges. In fact, the regent-mother's 
mere look had such a virtue, that there was no good 
woman who did not fear to stand before her, thinking 
herself unworthy of her sight ; or who, if regarded by 
her with gentleness, did not think herself deserving of 
great honour, knowing that the regent-mother was one 
who could not look with a favourable eye upon any but 
virtuous women." 

"It would be a fine thing," said Hircan, "that one 
should stand more in awe of the eyes of a woman than 
of the holy sacrament, which, if not received in faith 
and charity, is received to eternal damnation." 

" I promise you," said Parlamente, " that those who 
are not inspired of God are more afraid of temporal than 
of spiritual powers. I believe, too, that this wretched 
woman was much more mortified by her imprisonment 
and by the loss of her canon than by all the remon- 
strances and rebukes that could be addressed to her." 

" But you forget the principal thing that determined 
her to return to her husband," said Simontault, "and 
that was that the canon was eighty years old, and her 
husband was younger than herself ; so the good lady 
was a gainer on both hands. But had the canon been 
young she would never have quitted him ; the remon- 
strances of the ladies would have availed no more than 
the sacraments." 

"I think she did right," said Nomerfide, "not to 
confess her sin too easily ; for one should only tell that 
sort of offence humbly to God, and deny it stoutly be- 
fore men, since, though the thing be true, by dint of 
lying and swearing one throws doubt on its truth." 

" It is difficult, however, for a sin to be so secret as 

Seventh day.l QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 489 

never to come to light," said Longarine, " unless God 
himself conceals it for sake of those who repent of it 
truly for love of Him." 

" What would you say of women," said Hircan, 
"who have no sooner committed a folly than they go 
and tell it ? " 

" The thing seems so surprising," said Longarine, 
" that it seems to me a token that they do not dislike 
the sin. I have already said that the sin which is not 
covered by the grace of God can hardly be denied be- 
fore men. There are many who take pleasure in talking 
of such things, and glory in publishing their vices, and 
others who accuse themselves of self-contradiction." 

" That is a very clumsy kind of self-contradiction," 
said Saffredent, "but if you know any example of it, I 
beg you will relate it." 

" Hearken, then," said Longarine. 


A lady recounting an adventure of gallantry that had occurred to 
herself, and speaking in the third person, inadvertently be- 
trayed her own secret. 

In the time of King Francis I. there was a lady of 
the blood royal who had honour, virtue, and beauty, and 
who knew how to tell a story with grace, and also to 
laugh at a good one when she heard it.* This lady, be- 
ing at one of her houses, was visited by all her depen- 

* The lady of the blood royal whom Margaret eulogizes so 
highly was probably her mother, who was very fond of hearing all 
?orts of court gossip. 


dents and neighbours, by whom she was greatly beloved. 
Among other visits she received one from a certain lady 
who, seeing that everyone told the princess tales to 
divert her, wished to do like the rest, and said, " I have 
a good story to tell you, madam ; but you must promise 
not to speak of it. It is quite true, and I can conscien- 
tiously give it you as such. 

" There was a married lady who lived on very credit- 
able terms with her husband, though he was old and 
she young. A gentleman in her neighbourho^)d, seeing 
she had married this old man, fell in love with her, and 
solicited her for several years, but she only replied to 
him as became a virtuous woman. One day it occurred 
to the gentleman that if he could come upon her at a 
moment advantageous to himself, she would perhaps not 
be so cruel. After he had long weighed the danger to 
which he exposed himself, love smoothed overall difficul- 
ties, dissipated his fear, and determined him to seek time 
and opportunity. Keeping good watch for intelligence, 
he learned that the lady's husband was going away to 
another of his houses, and intended to set out at day- 
break to avoid the heat, whereupon he repaired to the 
lady and found her asleep in bed. Seeing that the maid- 
servants were not in the chamber, he got into the lady's 
bed, booted and spurred as he was, without having had 
the wit to lock the door. She awoke, and was very 
much vexed to see him there ; but in spite of all her re- 
monstrances there was no stopping him — he violated her, 
and threatened, if she made a noise, to tell everybody 
she had sent for him ; which frightened her so much 
that she durst not cry out. One of the servants came 
back some moments afterwards into the chamber. The 
gentleman jumped up with such celerity that she would 
have noticed nothing, if his spur had not stuck in the 


The lady here could not help saying: " Never was woman more^^ 
astonished than myself." 

Sez-e?tt/i Jay.] QUEEN' OF NAVARRE. 401 

top sheet, and carried it clean off the bed, leaving the 
lady quite naked." 

So far the lady had told her story as if of another : 
but here she could not help saying : 

" Never was wopan more astonished than I when I 
found myself thus naked." 

The princess, who had listened to the whole tale 
without a smile, could not then restrain her laughter, 
and said, " I see you were quite right in saying you 
knew the story to be true.'' The poor lady tried hard 
to mend the matter ; but there was no possibility of 
finding a good plaister for it. 

I assure you, ladies, if the act had given her real pain 
she would have been glad to have lost the recollection 
of it ; but as I have already said, sin is sure to discover 
itself unless it be covered by the mantle which, as David 
says, makes man blessed. 

" Truly, of all the fools I ever heard of this was the 
greatest, to set others laughing at her own expense," 
said Ennasuite. 

" I am not surprised that speech follows action," said 
Parlamente : " for it is easier to say than to do." 

" Why," said Geburon, " what sin had she committed } 
She was asleep in her bed, and he threatened her with 
death and infamy, Lucretia, who has been so much 
lauded, did quite as much." 

" It is true," said Parlamente, " there is no righteous 
person who may not fall ; but when one has felt at the 
instant great disgust at one's fall, one remembers it only 
with horror. To efface its memory Lucretia killed her- 
self ; but this wanton chose to make others laugh at it 
in her own case." 

" It seems to me, nevertheless," said Nomerfide, " that 


she was a good woman, since she was urgently solicited 
several times, but would not consent. Accordingly, the 
gentleman was obliged to use fraud and violence in 
order to succeed." 

"What!" said Parlamente, "do you suppose that a 
woman's honour is spotless when she succumbs after 
two or three refusals .? At that rate there would be 
many a woman of honour among those who are regarded 
as having none. Plenty of women have been known foi- 
a long time to repulse him to whom their hearts were 
already given. Some do it because they fear infamy ; 
others to make themselves the more loved and esteemed 
by a feigned resistance. A woman, therefore, ought not 
to be held in any consideration unless she remains firm 
to the end." 

" If a young man were to refuse a handsome girl," 
said Dagoucin, "would you not regard that as a great 
act of virtue .-* " 

" Assuredly," said Oisille, " if a young man in good 
health made such a refusal, I should think the act very 
laudable, but not hard to believe." 

" I know some," said Dagoucin, " who have refused 
adventures which all their comrades sought for with 

" Pray take my place," said Longarine, " and tell us 
what you know in that way; but recollect that wc are 
pledged to speak the truth." 

" I promise to tell it you," said Dagoucin, " without 
cover or disguise." 

Siroenth day.\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 493 


Notable chastity of a French lord. 

There were in Paris four girls, two of whom were 
sisters, so handsome, so young, and so fresh, that they 
had the choice of all the gallants. The gentleman whom 
the king then reigning had made provost of Paris, seeing 
that his master was young, and of an age to desire such 
company, managed so dexterously with the four, making 
each of them believe that she was for the king, that they 
consented to what the provost desired. This was that 
they should all be present at a banquet to which he in- 
vited his master, communicating to him his design, which 
was approved by the king, and by two great lords of the 
court, who were not sorry to have a finger in the pie. 
While they were at a loss for a fourth, in came a young 
iord, a handsome, well-bred man, and younger by ten 
years than the others. He was at once invited to the 
treat, and accepted the invitation with a good grace, 
though in reality he had no mind for it, for two reasons. 
He had a wife with whom he was very happy, who bore 
him fine children ; and they lived so tranquilly together 
that for no consideration would he have given her cause 
to suspect him. Besides, he loved one of the hand- 
somest ladies then in France, and esteemed her so much 
that all others seemed ugly to him in comparison with 
her ; so that in his early youth, and before he was mar- 
ried, there was no means of making him see and frequent 
other women, however fair, for he had more pleasure in 
seeing his mistress, and loving her perfectly, than he 
could have had from all he could have obtained of 

494 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE \N<rvel 63. 

This young lord went to his wife, told her what the 
king had in view, and said he would rather die than do 
what he had jDromised. " As there is no man," he said, 
" whom I would not dare to attack in anger, so I would 
rather die than commit a murder in cold blood, unless 
honour compelled to it. In like manner I would rather 
die than violate conjugal fidelity at another's caprice, 
unless extreme love, such as blinds the best, extorted 
such a violation from me." 

His wife, seeing in him so much virtue with so much 
youth, loved him more than ever, and asked him how he 
could excuse himself, seeing that princes often take it 
amiss that others do not applaud what they like. " I 
have heard say," he replied, "that the wise man is always 
ready at a critical moment with an illness or a journey. 
So I intend to be sick four or five days beforehand ; 
and, provided you play the sorrowing wife, I trust I shall 
get out of the scrape." 

"That is what one may call a good and holy hypoc- 
risy," said his wife. " I will not fail to wear as sad a 
face as possible ; for one is very fortunate when one 
can avoid offending God and provoking the sovereign's 

So said, so done ; and the king was very sorry to 
hear through the wife of the husband's illness, which, 
however, was not of long duration. Certain affairs hav- 
ing then supervened to claim the king's attention, he for- 
got his pleasure to think of his duty, and suddenly 
quitted Paris. One day, recollecting his unfulfilled pro- 
ject, he said to the young prince, "We were great fools 
to quit Paris with such haste as not to have seen the 
four girls who have been represented to us as the hand- 
somest in my realm." 

*' I am very glad," replied the prince, " that you have 

Seventh day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARKE. ^oc 

not done so, for I was greatly afraid during my illness 
that I alone should lose such a good fortune." 

The king never suspected the dissimulation of the 
young lord, who thenceforth was more beloved by his 
wife than ever.* 

Parlamente burst out laughing, and said, ** He would 
have shown his love for his wife much more if he had 
done it for her sake only ; but, in any point of view, 
such conduct was certainly most commendable." 

" It seems to me no such great merit in a man to be 
chaste for his wife's .sake," said Hircan. " He is bound 
to it by so many reasons that he can hardly do otherwise. 
In the first place, God commands it ; he is pledged to it 
by his marriage vow ; and besides, the satiated appetite 
is not subjected to temptation like the craving one. 
But for the free love one cherishes for a mistress whom 
one does not enjoy, obtaining from her no other pleasure 
than that of seeing and speaking to her, and often noth- 
ing but mortifying replies, when this love is so faith- 
ful and so constant that it will not change, happen 
what may, then I maintain that chastity displayed on 
occasions of this sort is not only laudable but mirac- 

"It is no miracle," said Oisille, "for when the heart 
is devoted, nothing is impossible for the body." 

"Yes, for angelic bodies," observed Hircan. 

" I do not mean to speak only of those who by God's 

* This novel is wanting in the edition of 1558, published by 
Boaistuau; it appeared for the first time in that of Gruget in 1559. 
The king who figures in it is Francis I. ; and the gentleman whom 
the king had made provost of Paris is Jean de la Barre, who is 
mentioned in Novel I. 


grace are all transmuted into him," said Oisille, " but 
also of the most carnal among men ; and if you examine, 
you will find that those who have set their hearts and 
affections on seeking perfection in the sciences have 
not only forgotten the delights of the flesh, but even 
things which are most necessary to nature, such as 
food and drink. In fact, as long as the soul is in the 
body by affection, the flesh remains, as it were, in- 
sensible. Thence it comes that those who love hand- 
some and virtuous women take such delight in seeing 
and hearing them speak that the flesh then suspends all 
its desires. Those who cannot experience this content- 
ment are carnal persons, who, enveloped in too much 
fat, know not whether they have a soul or not ; but when 
the body is subjected to the spirit, it is almost insen- 
sible to the imperfections of the flesh, so that the strong 
persuasions of persons of this character may render 
them insensible. I knew a gentleman who, to show 
that his love for his mistress surpassed any other man's, 
was willing to give prooc of this by holding his bare fin- 
gers over the flame of a candle. He had his eyes bent 
on his mistress at the same moment, and he bore the 
fire with such fortitude that he burnt himself to the 
bone ; and yet he said that he felt no pain." 

" Methinks," said Geburon, " that the devil to whom 
he was a martyr ought to make a St. Lawrence of him, 
for there are few who endure such a great fire of love as 
not to fear that of the smallest taper. If a lady had put 
me to so severe a trial, I should demand a great recom- 
pense of her ; or, failing it, I should cease to love her." 

" You would then insist on having your hour after 
your mistress has had hers," said Parlamente. " So did 
a Spanish gentleman of Valencia, whose story was 
related to me by a very worthy commander." 

Srcentk day?^ QUEEN OF NA VARKE. 497 

" Pray take my place, madam, and tell it us," said 
Dagoucin, " for I suspect it is a good one." 

" The story I am going to relate, ladies," said Par- 
lamente, " will make you think twice before you refuse 
a good offer, and not trust that the present state of 
things will last for ever. You shall see that it is subject 
to change ; and that will oblige you to have a care for 
the future." 


A gentleman, having been unable to marry a person he loves, be- 
comes a Cordelier in despite — Sore distress of his mistress 

There was in Valencia a gentleman who for five or 
six years had loved a lady with so much propriety that 
the honour and conscience of neither had suffered any 
blemish. The gentleman's intention was to marry her — 
an intention the more reasonable as he was handsome, 
rich, and of good family. Before engaging in the lady's 
service, he had an explanation with her on the subject 
of marriage, respecting which she referred him to her 
relations. They assembled to consider the question, 
and resolved that the match was a very suitable one, 
provided the young lady was willing. But she, whether 
thinking to do better, or willing to dissemble her love for 
the gentleman, started so many objections that the as- 
sembly broke up, regretting that they had not been able 
to bring the affair to a conclusion, advantageous as it 
would have been on both sides. The most sorely disap- 
pointed of all was the poor lover, who would have borne 



his rejection with patience if he could have persuaded 
himself that it was not the maiden's fault, but her re- 
lations'. But as the truth was well known to him, his 
affliction was so extreme that, without speaking to his 
mistress or anyone, he went home, and, after setting his 
affairs in order, retired to a deserted spot to try to 
forget his love, and turn it wholly towards our Lord, 
to whom he was more bound in gratitude than to his 

During his abode there he heard nothing from the 
lady or her relations, and resolved, after having missed 
the happiest life he could have hoped for, to choose ihe 
most austere and disagreeable he could imagine. In 
this dismal state of mind, which might well be called 
despair, he betook himself, with a view to becoming a 
monk, to a Franciscan monastery, which was not far 
from the residence of several of his relations. As soon 
as they were aware of his purpose, they did all they 
could to dissuade him from it, but his resolution was so 
fixed that nothing could shake it. As the cause of the 
mischief was known to them, they sought a remedy at 
the hands of her who had given occasion to such a pre- 
cipitate fit of devotion. She was greatly surprised and 
distressed at this news ; and as her intention had only 
been to try her lover's fervour by refusing him for a 
while, and not to lose him for ever, as she saw she was 
about to do, she wrote him a letter earnestly beseeching 
him to forego his dismal resolution, and return to her 
who loved him, and was ready to be wholly his own, as 
she had always desired to be, even when she affected 
coyness for the purpose of proving the sincerity of his 
love, whereof she was now fully convinced. 

This letter, conveyed by one of her friends, who was 
charged to accompany it with all possible remonstrance, 

Seventh daj'.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 499 

was received by the gentleman Cordelier with so sad a 
countenance, and with so many tears and sighs, that it 
seemed as though he would fain have drowned and 
burned the poor paper. His only reply was to tell the 
bearer that the mortification of his excessive passion had 
cost him so dear that it had taken from him the wish to 
love and the fear to die. That being the case, he begged 
her who was the occasion of it, and who had not chosen 
to respond to his passion, to torment him no more now 
that he had overcome it, and to content herself with 
the harm she had already done him. " I could find no 
other remedy," he said, " than the austere life I have 
chosen. Continual penance makes me forget my grief. I 
so weaken my body by fastings and castigations that the 
thought of death is for me a sovereign consolation. Let 
her, then, who sends you to me, spare me, I entreat, the 
misery of hearing her mentioned, for the mere recollec- 
tion of her name is to me an intolerable purgatory." 

The bearer returned with this unwelcome reply, and 
reported it to her who had sent him. It was with incon- 
ceivable regret she heard it : but love, which will not 
suffer the spirit to be utterly cast down, put it into her 
head that if she could see him she would effect more by 
her eyes and her tongue than she had by her pen. She 
went then to the monastery, accompanied by her father 
and her nearest relations. She had omitted nothing 
that she thought could set off her beauty, in the belief 
that, if he once saw her and heard her, it was impossible 
but that a fire so long cherished should kindle up more 
strongly than ever. She entered the monastery towards 
the end of vespers, and sent for him to meet her in a 
chapel of the cloisters. Not knowing who wanted him, 
he obeyed the summons, and went to encounter the 
rudest shock he had ever sustained. He was so pale 


and worn that she could hardly recognize him ; never, 
theless, as he seemed to her as comely and as lovable as 
ever, love constrained her to stretch out her arms, think- 
ing to embrace him ; but she was so touched by the sad 
state in which he appeared, and the idea of it caused 
such a sinking at the heart, that she fainted away. The 
good monk, who was not destitute of brotherly charity, 
raised her up, and seated her on a bench in the chapel. 
Though he had not less need of aid than she, he never- 
theless affected to ignore her passion, fortifying his heart 
in the love of his God against the present opportunity, 
and he succeeded so well that he seemed to be uncon- 
scious of what was before his eyes. 

Recovering from her weakness, and turning upon him 
eyes so lovely and so sad that they might have softened 
a rock, the maiden said everything she could think of as 
most likely to persuade him to quit that place. To all 
her arguments and entreaties he made the best replies 
he could ; but at last, finding that his heart was begin- 
ning to yield to his mistress's tears, and seeing that 
Love, whose cruelty he had long experienced, had in its 
hand a gilded arrow ready to inflict on him a new and 
mortal wound, he fled from Love and from his mistress, 
as his only means of safety. Shut up then, in his cell, 
and unable to let her depart in that uncertainty, he wrote 
her a few words in Spanish, which appear to me so ex- 
pressive that I will not translate them for fear of impair- 
ing their grace : Volved do7ide veniste anima mi, que en 
las tristes vidas es la mia.* The lady, seeing from this 
that no hope remained, resolved to follow his advice and 
that of her friends, and returned home, to lead a life as 

* " Return whence thou earnest, my soul, for among the sad 
lives is mine." 

Seventh day ] Q UEEN OF NA FAR RE. ^ o i 

melancholy as that of her lover in his monastery was 

You see, ladies, how the gentleman revenged himself 
on his rigorous mistress, who, intending only to try him, 
drove him to such despair that, when she would have 
relented towards him, it was too late. 

" I am sorry he did not throw off the grey gown and 
marry her," said Nomerfide. "Theirs, I think, would 
have been a perfectly happy marriage." 

" In faith, I think he did very wisely," said Simon- 
tault ; " for all who have well considered the inconveni- 
ences of marriage are agreed that there are none greater 
in the austerities of the monastic life. As he was already 
weakened by fastings and abstinences, he was afraid to 
load himself with a burden he would have been obliged 
to bear all his life long." 

" She did wrong, I think, by so weak a man," said 
Hircan, " to tempt him by a proposal of marriage, since 
that is a matter in which the most vigorous and robust 
find themselves hard bestead. But if she had talked 
to him of an intimacy free from all but voluntary obli- 
gation, there was no knot but would have been untied. 
But since, by way of drawing him out of purgatory, 
she offered him a hell, I maintain that he was right to 
refuse, and make her feel the pain which her refusal 
had caused him." 

" Many there are," said Ennasuite, " who, thinking to 
do better than others, do either worse, or the reverse of 
what they had expected." 

"Truly you put me in mind," said Geburon, "though 
the fact is not quite to the point, of a woman who did 
the contrary of what she intended, which was the cause 
of a great tumult in the church of Saint Jean de Lyon." 


" Pray take my place," said Parlamente, " and tell us 
the story." 

" Mine will be neither so long nor so sad as yours," 
he replied. 


Simplicity of an old woman who presented a lighted candle to 
Saint Jean de Lyon, and wanted to fasten it on the forehead 
of a soldier who was sleeping on a tomb — What happened in 

There was a very dark chapel in the church of Saint 
Jean de Lyon, and in front of the chapel a stone tomb, 
with figures of great personages as large as life, and 
several men-at-arms represented in sleeping postures 
round them. A soldier walking one day about the 
church (it was in the heat of summer) felt inclined to 
sleep. He cast his eyes on this chapel, and seeing it 
was dark and cool, he went and lay down among the 
other recumbent figures on the tomb, and fell asleep. 
Presently up came a very pious old woman, who, after 
performing her devotions with a candle in her hand, 
wanted to fix it to the tomb, and the sleeping man being 
more within her reach than the other figures, she set 
about sticking the candle on his forehead, imagining that 
it was stone ; but the wax would not stick. The good 
woman, supposing that this was in consequence of the 
coldness of the image, clapped the lighted end of the 
candle to its forehead, but the image, which was not 
insensible, began to roar. The good woman was fright- 
ened almost out of her wits, and shrieked out " Miracle, 

Sevettth day.\ QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 503 

miracle ! " so loudly that all the people in church ran, 
some to the bells, others to the scene of the miracle. 
She took them to see the image which had stirred, which 
made many laugh ; but certain priests, not contenting 
themselves with laughing, resolved to turn the tomb to 
account, and make as much money of it as of the crucifix 
on their pulpit, which is said to have spoken ; but the 
display of an old woman's silliness put an end to the 

If everyone knew what are their follies they would 
not be deemed holy, nor their miracles true. I pray you 
then, ladies, take care, henceforth, to what saints you 
give your candles. 

"■ How strange it is," said Hircan, " that be it in 
what manner it may, women must always do wrong ! " 

" Is it doing wrong to carry candles to the tomb ? " 
said Nomerfide. 

" Yes," replied Hircan, " when the lighted end is put 
to a man's forehead ; for no good deed should be called 
a good deed when mischief comes of it. The poor 
woman thought of course she had made a grand present 
to God in giving Him a paltry candle." 

" God does not look to the value of the present," said 
Oisille, " but to the heart that offers it. Perhaps this 
poor woman loved God more than those who gave great 
torches ; for, as the gospel says, she gave out of her 

" I do not believe, however," said Saffredent, " that 
God, who is supreme wisdom, can look with favour on 
women's folly. Simplicity is acceptable to Him, it is 

* The end of this novel, and the whole epilogue, were sup- 
pressed in the first edition. Gruget restored the epilogue in the 
second edition, but not the passage relating to the crucifix. 

504 ^^-^ HEPTA ME RON OF THE \ Amd 05 . 

true ; but the Scriptures inform me that He scorns the 
ignorant ; and if we are there commanded to be simple 
as doves, we are also enjoined to be prudent as serpents." 

" For my part," said Oisille, " I do not regard as 
ignorant her who carries before God her lighted candle, 
as making ame^ide honorable, kneeling on the ground, 
and candle in hand, to her sovereign Lord, in order to 
confess her guilt, and pray with lively faith for His grace 
and salvation." 

"Would to God that everyone acquitted herself in 
this way as well as you," said Dagoucin ; " but I do not 
believe that poor ignorant women do the thing with this 

" Those women who are least capable of expressing 
themselves well," rejoined Oisille, "are often those who 
have the most lively sense of the love and the will of 
God ; consequently, it is not prudent to judge any but 

" It is no wonderful thing to have frightened a sleep- 
ing groom," said Ennasuite, laughing, " since women of as 
mean condition have frightened great princes without 
setting fire to their foreheads." 

" I am sure you know some story of the sort which 
you wish to tell us," said Dagoucin, " so take my place, 
if you please." 

" The story will not be long," said Ennasuite ; " but 
if I could recount it to you as it occurred, you would 
have no mind to cry." 

Seventh day. \ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 5 05 


Amusing; adventure of Monsieur de Vendome and the Princess of 


The year when Monsieur de Vendome married the 
Princess of Navarre, the king and queen, their father 
and mother, after having been regaled at Vendome, 
accompanied them into Guienne. They visited the 
house of a gentleman in which there were several ladies, 
young and fair, and where the company danced so long 
that the young married pair, being tired, retired to their 
chamber, where they threw themselves on the bed in 
their clothes, the doors and widows being closed, and no 
one remaining with them. They were wakened from 
their sleep by the sound of some one opening their door 
from without. Monsieur de Vendome drew back the 
curtain, and looked out to see who it might be, supposing 
that it was one of his friends who wished to surprise 
him. But instead of that he saw a tall old chamber- 
woman, who walked straight up to their bed. It was too 
dark for her to distinguish their features, but she could 
see that they were very close together, and cried out, 
" Ah. thou naughty, shameless wanton ! 'tis long I have 
suspected thee for what thou art ; but not having proofs 
to show, I durst not speak of it to my mistress, but now 
I have seen thy infamy I am resolved to conceal it no 
longer. And thou, villanous apostate, that hast done this 
house the scorn to beguile this poor wench, were it not 
for the fear of God I would beat the life out of thee on 
the spot. Get up, in the devil's name, get up ! It seems 
thou art not even ashamed." 


Monsieur de Vendome and the princess, to prolong 
the scene, hid their faces against each other, and laughed 
so heartily that they could not speak. The chamber- 
woman, seeing they did not budge for her rebuke, or 
show any signs of rising, went to drag them out of bed 
by the legs and arms ; but then she perceived by their 
dresses that they were not what she took them for. 
The moment she recognized their faces she fell on her 
knees, and implored their pardon for the fault she had 
committed in disturbing them. Monsieur de Vendome, 
wishing to know more of the matter, got up at once, and 
begged the good woman to tell him for whom she had 
taken them. At first she would not do so ; but after 
making him promise on oath that he would never men- 
tion it, she told him that the cause of her mistake was a 
demoiselle belonging to the house, with whom a pro- 
tbonotary * was in love ; and she had long watched them, 

* The office of Apostolic Prothonotary was instituted in the 
early times of the Romish Church by Pope Clement I. There were 
originally twelve such officers, and their duty was to write the lives 
of the saints and the other apostolic records. Gradually their 
number increased, and their functions diminished in importance, so 
that in the fifteenth century the title of prothonotary was merely an 
honorary dignity conferred as a matter of course on doctors of 
theology of noble family, or otherwise of a certain importance. 
Brantome says, in the beginning of his 28th Discours on the great 
captains and illustrious men of France: "Monsieur de I'Escun, 
brother of M. de Lautrec, was a good captain, but more intrepid 
and valiant than remarkable for the morality of his conduct. He 
had been destined for the long robe, and studied for a long time at 
Pavia in the time of the grand master Chaumont. when Milan was 
in our peaceable possession. He was called the Prothonotary of 
Foix, but I think he was what the Spaniard calls vii letrado que nt 
tenia muchas letras — that is to say, a litcratiis who had little 
acquaintance with letters ; and indeed it was usual in those days 
with prothonotaries, and even with those of good family, not to have 

Sei'enth day.-] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 507 

because she was vexed that her mistress put confidence 
in a man who offered her such an affront. She then re- 
tired, and left the prince and princess shut in as she had 
found them. They laughed long at the adventure ; and 
though they often told the tale, nevertheless they would 
never name the persons for whom they had been mis- 

You see, ladies, how the good woman, thinking to do 
a righteous act, informed these princely strangers of 
things whereof the domestics of the house had never 
heard a word.* 

" I think," said Parlamente, " I know where the ad- 
venture happened, and the name of the prothonotary. 
He has already governed many ladies' houses, and when 
he cannot win the good graces of the mistress, he never 
misses one of the demoiselles ; with that exception, he is 
a well-behaved and worthy man." 

"Why do you say with that exception," said Hircan, 
"since it is for that very thing that I esteem him a 
worthy man .-*" 

" I see," said Parlamente, " that you know the malady 
and the patient, and that if he needed an apology you 
would not fail to be his advocate. However, I should 
not like to trust an intrigue to a man who did not know 

much learning, but to enjoy themselves, hunt, make love, and 
generally to cuckold the poor gentlemen who were gone to the 
wars. There was a song in those days in which a lady says : 

' Passerez vous tousjours par cy {bis) 
Prothenotaire sans soucy ? ' " 

* This novel was omitted in the first edition of the Heptameron 
It was in 1548 that Antoine dc Bourbon, Duke of Vendome, mar- 
ried Jeanne de Navarre, only daughter of Margaret, and mother of 
Henri IV., King of franco. 


how to conduct his own without letting it be known even 
to the chamber-women." 

" Do you suppose," said Nomerfide, " that men care 
whether such things are known or not ? Provided they 
attain their end, that is enough for them. Be assured 
that if nobody spoke of the matter they would publish it 

" There is no need for men to say all they know," 
said Hircan, angrily. 

" Perhaps," replied Nomerfide, blushing, "they would 
say nothing to their own advantage." 

" To hear you talk," said Simontault, " it seems as 
though men took pleasure in hearing women spoken ill 
of, and I am sure you think me one of that sort. For 
that reason I have a great mind to say some good of 
them, that I may not be regarded as a slanderer." 

" I give you my vote," said Ennasuite, " and pray you 
to constrain yourself a little in order to do your devoir 
to our honour." 

" It is no new thing, ladies," said Simontault, " to hear 
of your virtues. In my opinion, when some one of your 
noble actions presents itself, far from being hidden it 
ought to be written in letters of gold, to serve as an ex- 
ample to women, and to give men cause for admiration, 
to see in the weaker sex what weakness recoils from. It 
is this that prompts me to relate what I heard from Cap- 
tain Robertval and several of his company." 

Seventh ^ay.] QUEEN OF NA VARRE. 5 09 


Love and extreme hardships of a woman in a foreign land. 

The king having given the command of a small squad- 
ron to Robertval for an expedition he had resolved to 
make to the island of Candia, that captain intended to 
settle in the island, in case the air proved good, and to 
build towns and castles there. Everyone knows what 
were the beginnings of this project. In order to people 
the country with Christians, he took with him all sorts 
of artisans, among whom there was one who was base 
enough fD betray his master, so that he was near falling 
into the hands of the natives. But it was God's will that 
the conspiracy should be discovered ; and so did no great 
harm to Captain Robertval, who had the traitor seized, 
intending to hang him as he deserved. He would have 
done so but for the wife of this wretch, who, after shar- 
ing the perils of the sea with her husband, was willing 
to follow his bad fortune to the end. She prevailed so 
far by her tears and supplications, that Robertval, both 
for the services she had rendered him, and from com- 
passion for her, granted what she asked. This was, that 
her husband and herself should be left on a little island 
in the sea, inhabited only by wild beasts, with permission 
tc take with them what was necessary for their subsist- 

The poor creatures, left alone with fierce beasts, had 
recourse only to God, who had always been the firm hope 
of the poor wife. As she had no consolation but in her 
God, she took with her for her preservation, her nurture, 
and her consolation, the New Testament, which she read 


incessantly. Moreover, she worked along with her hus- 
band at building a small dwelling. When the lions and 
other wild beasts approached to devour them, the hus- 
band with his arquebuse, and the wife with stones, 
defended themselves so well that not only the beasts 
durst not approach them, but even they often killed some 
of them which were good to eat. They subsisted for a 
long time on such flesh and on herbs after their bread 
was gone. However, in the long run, the husband could 
not resist the effects of such diet ; besides, they drank 
such unwholesome water that he became greatly swollen, 
and died in a short while, having no other service or con- 
solation than his wife's, who acted as his physician and 
his confessor ; so that he passed with joy from his desert 
to the heavenly land. The poor woman buried him in a 
grave which she made as deep as she could ; the beasts, 
however, immediately got scent of it, and came to de- 
vour the body, but the poor woman, firing from her little 
dwelling with her arquebuse, hindered her husband's 
body from having such a burial. Thus living like the 
beasts as to her body, and like the angels as to her spirit, 
she passed the time in reading, contemplation, prayers, 
and orisons, having a cheerful and contented spirit in a 
body emaciated and half dead. 

But He who never forsakes his own in their need, 
and who displays his power when all seems hopeless, did 
not suffer that the virtue with which this woman was en- 
dowed should be unknown to the world, but that it should 
be known there for his glory. After some time, one of 
the vessels of Robertval's fleet passing before the island, 
those on deck saw a woman, who reminded them of the 
persons they had put ashore there, and they resolved to 
go and see in what manner God had disposed of them. 
The poor woman, on seeing the vessel approach, went 

Sr.cnth Jay\ QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 51I 

down to the sea-beach, where they found her on landing. 
After thanking God for their arrival, she took them to 
her poor little hut, and showed them on what she had 
subsisted during her melancholy abode there. They could 
never have believed it, had they not known that God can 
nourish his servants in a desert as at the finest banquets 
in the world. As she could not remain in such a place, 
they took her straightway with them to Rochelle ; and 
there, when they had made known to the inhabitants the 
fidelity and perseverance of this woman, the ladies paid 
her great honour, and were glad to send their daughters 
to her to learn to read and write. She maintained her- 
self for the rest of her days by that honourable profes- 
sion, having no other desire than to exhort everyone to 
love God and trust in Him, holding forth as an example 
the great mercy with which He had dealt towards her. 

Now, ladies, you cannot say but that I laud the vir- 
tues which God has implanted in you — virtues which 
appear the greater, the weaker the being that displays 

" We are not sorry," said Oisille, " that you praise in 
us the graces of our Lord, for in truth it is from Him 
that comes all virtue ; but neither man nor woman con- 
tributes to the work of God. In vain both bestir them- 
selves and strive to do well ; they do but plant, and it is 
God that gives the increase." 

" If you have well read Scripture," said Saffredent, 
" you know that St. Paul says that he has planted and 
Apollos has watered ; but he does not speak of women 
having put their hands to the work of God." 

" You do like those bad men who take a passage of 
Scripture which makes for them, and pass over that 
which is contrary to them," said Parlamente. " If you 

5 12 THE HEPTAMERON OF THE {Novel f^-]. 

have read St. Paul from one end to the other, you will 
find that he commends himself to the ladies who have 
toiled much with him in the propagation of the Gos- 
pel. ' 

*' Be that as it may," said Longarine, " this woman is 
worthy of great praise, both for her love for her hus- 
band, for whom she risked her life, and her confidence 
in God, who, as you see, did not abandon her," 

" As for the first point," said Ennasuite, " I believe 
there is no wife present who would not do as much to 
save her husband's life." 

" And I believe," said Parlamente, " that there are 
husbands such mere beasts that it could be no surprise 
to their wives to find themselves reduced to live among 
their fellows." 

Ennasuite could not help replying, as taking this to 
have been said on her account, " If beasts did not bite 
me, their company would be more agreeable to me than 
that of men, who are irascible and unbearable. But I 
do not retract my assertion, and I say again, that if my 
husband was in the like danger, I would not forsake him, 
though it were to cost me my life." 

" Beware," said Nonierfide, " how you love to such a 
degree that the excess of your love maybe mischievous 
both to you and to him. There is a medium in all 
things, and for want of a right understanding love is 
often converted into hatred." 

" It seems to me," said Simontault, " that you have 
not pushed the matter so far without purposing to co